Watering the garden

Why is it so important to water the garden properly? Plants are expensive, and enough water will help them to develop properly. They will also be less susceptible to damage from pests. Too much water, on the other hand, will make plants prone to rot and disease.

The visual signs of overwatering and underwatering are similar - wilted leaves and a yellowish colour. For this reason, keeping track of rainfall and having a consistent schedule of watering is beneficial. We lead busy lives, and it is easy to forget when last  the garden was watered! Check the soil if uncertain - if the soil is dry to a depth of 3 cm or so, it is probably time to water.

The amount of water your garden needs is influenced by the type of soil and the type of plants you have planted. It is also logical that more evaporation will take place on warm, sunny days.

The first step is to know what kind of soil you have in the garden. If uncertain, do the simple jar test. Water will drain away quickly if the soil is sandy, whilst heavy clay, although more difficult to penetrate, holds water longer and is more likely to be overwatered. The soil's water holding capacity can be improved by adding organic matter such as compost.

In South Africa, it is wise to give preference to drought-resistant plants in the garden. If you simply love plants with high-water needs, such as azaleas and rhodendrons, group them together. Also, remember that large shrubs and trees will suffer less if they dry out a bit than newly planted plants and plants with shallow roots, which  need to be watered more regularly.

Mulching is a must for moisture conservation. It reduces evaporation, keeps the soil cool in summer and helps prevent erosion caused by rain and wind.

Rather water less frequently but generously. Shallow watering causes roots to stay near the soil surface. Deeply rooted plants are more resilient to drought. Brief daily watering will be less beneficial than moistening the soil well  to a depth of 12 cm  once or twice a week.

The best time to water is early morning, as a lot of water is lost by evaporation during the heat of the day. Avoid moistening foliage at night, as that may lead to fungal diseases.

Lawns have their own special watering needs. Discuss the amount of water your type of lawn needs with an expert at your local nursery.

Irrigation systems can be a great aid to make watering the garden easy, but then it must preferably installed by someone who is knowledgeable about the requirements posed by the type of soil in your garden and needs of the plants you chose. If it is automated, a sensor to keep it from switching on during rainy periods, is imperative to prevent overwatering.

Water sensibly,  and enjoy your garden!




Published in: December news


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