water cascading from a sprinkler onto a plant

Now that your plants have been planted for this season, it's time to turn your attention to watering. Proper watering techniques will ensure success in your yard and garden all summer long. Here are a few recommendations from Al's Experts for when and how to water to achieve the best water-wise results.

hand-drawn image of clocks

1. Know When to Water

Water early in the morning before 10:00 am, or later in the evening after 6:00 pm when temperatures are cooler and evaporation is minimized.  Watering in the morning allows the plant to use that water most efficiently throughout the entire day. Watering too late in the evening can set up the ideal conditions for pesky slugs.

2. Know How Much to Water

The amount of water your plants require is going to change with the weather. It is helpful to know exactly how much water output your watering system produces, so you can adjust the amount of water your using with confidence. Using small containers approximately 1" high (a tuna can is perfect!), run your system until the containers are full. That way you'll know how long to water to achieve 1" of water at varying distances from the sprinkler head. How many inches of water is required depends on the type of plant and the weather.

a hand-drawn image of a sprinkler spraying water into tuna cans

3. Water Thoroughly, but Less Frequently

Watering thoroughly but less frequently creates the best possible root system. Plants that have larger root system are more effective at accessing water, and as a result need to be watered less frequently.  Established landscapes need to be watered 2 times per week during the summer. New plantings, anything in a container, or areas of your landscape exposed to wind will need more frequent watering. Keeping track of your watering schedule in a garden journal can be a big help.

4. Water & Soak

Much of the soil in our area is clay. This means the soil may take longer to absorb water, but once absorbed it holds onto that moisture well. The goal is to apply only the precise amount of water your soil can actually use. Give your soil some time to soak up the water being applied before adding any more. This may look like watering for 10 minutes, waiting 30 minutes for the water to be absorbed, and then watering again. You can always do a little weeding while you wait!

5. For the Love of Compost!

Add compost or mulch to your soil to help it absorb and store water. This is important for the health and well being of your plants, and can reduce your water usage by retaining the water longer near the plants that need it the most.

By following these Al's Expert watering tips you will see your plants thrive, and practice good water conservation at the same time.