The soil is the foundation of every lawn and garden. Before anything is landscaped, consider the watering needs. Saving water begins with the right soil in the right places.
Use sandy soil in the shady areas to prevent drainage problems. Water in shady areas does not evaporate as quickly as water in the sun. Sand allows the water to dissipate quickly. This will help prevent puddling and run-off.
Areas that will get more sun should have soil with greater organic material (compost type). This is especially true for west sloping lawns that get hot afternoon sun. The soil will absorb the water, increasing saturation and slowing evaporation.
Now that we've cover the soil basics, hear are some key tips that will save you water this summer.
Even when we are careful, it's difficult not to waste water. Here are are few ways to insure you are doing your best.
- Use a soaker hose Less water is lost to mist and evaporation then a garden hose and sprinklers.
- Water in the morning Mornings tend to be cooler, which helps reduce evaporation, making it prime watering time. The ground tends to be moist with dew which also helps with water absorption.
- A hot hose means hot water Don't leave your garden hose in the sun. It heats the water in the hose which distresses plants and evaporates more quickly.
- Water where your plant drinks Watering outside a plants root zone, 1 to 3 times the plants canopy diameter, is a waste. Keeping water inside the root zone radius will allow it to soak down to where a plant drinks. It's roots!
- Run off waste Watch for puddling or run off. If you see it, stop watering. Areas that run off or puddle require less water over longer periods of time to allow time to soak in.
We are lucky. Summer is the only season we need to concern ourselves with watering our plants and lawns. Our Puget Sound rains take care of the other seasons. Here are some quick watering tips for your lawn and garden.
- Water sunny and shady areas separately This may not be possible but it really prevents over-watering areas that don't need it.
- Watering your lawn An inch a week is all you need. But how much is an inch? If you don't know how it takes your sprinkler to apply an inch of water, find a shallow pan, mark an inch depth with tape, and place it under your sprinkler. Time how long it takes to reach the mark. A tuna or cat food can also make a good 'water catcher' since they are about an inch deep.
- Vegetable and flower gardens Water twice a week unless temperatures are extremely hot. Make sure to water deep - 1 to 2 hours for drip systems, 45 minutes to and hour for sprinklers. If hand watering, water the entire area twice to ensure deep soaking.
- For young plants Young plantings may need more frequent watering - every other day or even more until they take root - from a few days to a few weeks from seeds or transplant.
- For Annuals There is no hard and fast rule. Different plants need different amounts of water. The best guide for annuals is the plant tag which should tell you water requirements. When in doubt, Google it!
- Newly seeded lawns A constant moisture level is required - two to three brief waterings a day. Be careful of run off. Your lawn seed will run off with the water!
Follow these tips and you will save water and have a healthy lawn and garden this summer.
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