Andrew Westfall column sig

Following some pretty consistent rainfall across the area to start the year, summer has begun to heat up and unfortunately, we have not had the rainfall recently to make up for that evaporation. With little to no rain in the forecast at this time, gardeners will be turning on the irrigation to salvage all of their hard work. It may seem silly to offer advice on how to properly water a garden, but experienced gardeners will tell you, there is more to it than one might think. Most garden plants will need 1-1.5 inches of water per week to maintain healthy leaves, flowers and fruit. When Mother Nature does not provide enough, it’s up to the gardener to supply the rest. When you do need to water, it’s best to do a thorough deep application, and then put the hose away for the rest of the week. The worst thing you can do to your garden is to sprinkle lightly every day. Frequent, shallow watering only moistens the upper layer of soil, which encourages plant roots to stay shallow. In turn, that top layer of soil dries out quickly, making shallow-rooted plants more susceptible to drying. This holds true for lawns as well as garden and landscape plants.

It is also possible to kill your plants with kindness. Overwatering occurs when soil is kept too wet for too long, forcing valuable oxygen out of the soil. Oxygen is just as crucial to plant health as water. When heavy rains fall, or thorough irrigation is applied, don’t water again until the soil begins to dry. While you don’t want the soil to become so dry that plants begin to wilt, it is important to allow air to occupy some of the pore spaces in the soil between watering.

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