Did you know that just by making one change in your garden that you will benefit not only the earth, but also your plants, your back and your pocketbook? The one change I am talking about is making sure that you are watering your plants at the recommended rate for your area.
Okay, first the benefits to the earth. The first one is fairly obvious….by watering at the proper rate and frequency, we are conserving water – a precious resource.
Each time I consult with a homeowner, I often go over what their current irrigation schedule is. Believe it or not, over 90% of the time, I find that their trees and plans are being over-watered. In fact, one of my horticulture professors did a study and found the same statistics. Naturally, that is understandable; we live in a desert, so logically we think that more water will help our plants.
But, the truth is, is that the majority of plant problems we see related to irrigation is due to over-watering NOT under-watering.
Irrigating (watering) correctly not only causes your plants to grow at a healthy rate, but also encourages roots to grow deeper where the soil is cooler and moister and helps to flush out salts in our soils that can build-up around the roots of your plants. As a result, your plants will be better able to withstand the stress of summer.
The length of time for each irrigation cycle can vary depending on your individual system. So, to do this, all you need is a 3 ft. piece of rebar, (seriously, that is it). Once you have irrigated (watered) your plants, gently push the rebar down to see how far the water has penetrated. It will slide easily down through the moist soil. When it stops, measure the distance on the rebar to see how far it penetrated and you can see how much longer or shorter a time you will still need to water.
*The average time the water should be turned on for shrubs is approximately 2 hours at a time, but this can vary depending on your irrigation system and soils.
Even though the specific recommendations of this post are geared for the desert gardener in Arizona, the broader principles can apply to us all. For those of you who do need to provide supplemental water to your plants, take the time to make sure that you are watering them correctly.
I would like to offer one word of caution, when changing your current irrigation schedule, gradually wean your plants from the excess water they have been receiving – you don’t want to shock your plants and it will take them some time to adjust to the longer length of time between each watering cycle.
I am joining with Jan from Thanks For Today and other fellow garden bloggers in sharing ways to garden sustainably in honor of Earth Day and this is my submission :^) Please visit her blog to see links to other posts honoring Earth Day.
*For landscape watering guidelines in greater Phoenix area, please visit AMWUA which is an excellent resource on irrigation which has more specific information on how often to water seasonally.