Its time to give your outdoor spaces a drink...they need it!
All of the predictors including the Farmer’s Almanac are saying the summer ahead of us is going to be a dry one. That means we are going to have to look after watering our outdoor spaces. When it comes to watering the lawn and the garden, there are some many myths and facts floating around (pun intended) that I thought it might be time for a refresher for all of the homeowners and gardeners out there.
The best time to water your plants and the lawn is not at dusk, it’s only at dawn. When we water at night, the leaves of the plants have less opportunity to dry off fast, promoting fungal growth in our plants. The worst offenders include powdery mildew and anthracnose, which both need damp leaves and warm temperatures to invade a garden.
The proper amount to water the yard varies because your plants all have different needs. During the cooler months, your lawn needs approximately 1” of water per week. The best way to measure this is with a rain gauge, but if you don’t have one, 20 minutes of watering from the sprinkler 3 times a week is about right. During the hot summer months, your lawn needs twice as much water. 2 inches per week in July and August is the best way to ensure your lawn stays as green as possible. There are a few plants that flower all summer, but you’ve probably noticed that you get more flowers early and again heading into fall. This is because these tend to be cooler months and there is more moisture available to the plants.
When your plants are in bloom, they often need more water, which is partly why most of our gardens are in flower in May. When it comes to the plants, most of your garden perennials need 2 inches per week. This is a general rule of thumb only! There are hundreds of varieties of plants that do very well with less water and many that require more. Your vegetable garden is a perfect example. Veggies need the most amount of water in the yard, coming in at 2.5 inches. To be successful with your tomatoes and peppers, be diligent and water often in the early morning and keep the moisture on the roots instead of the leaves.
There is one more myth I want to address. I promise, there is no such thing as sunburnt grass or plants. Watering in the full sun has been shown to have no impact on your plants. Growing up I was taught that the water droplets would act as little magnifying glasses and scorch the lawn. Even though this is a complete myth, it does serve a great purpose. We should never be watering in the full sun because it’s a waste of water. More water is evaporated when exposed to sunlight before it gets to the roots and on hot and sunny days, you need twice as much to water to care for your plants.
The best answer, water your plants when they need it. They will give you signs of stress like brown patches, wilted leaves, and drooping flower stems. The better you pay attention…the happier your garden will be.