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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Watering your new landscape, perennial garden, or tree.


Watering - The Most Important Plant and Garden Care Task:

Now that your landscape or garden design project is complete, its success or failure is now dependent on whether or not you meet your plants' water needs. Research has shown that a plant's growth rate is affected for years by the way they were treated after transplanting. Failure to adequately water the first season will have short- and long-term repercussions on your landscape.
Here is an Echinacea plant thriving in a beautiful organic gardening landscape.
When: April - October: Mornings are best, but anytime of day is ok. November - March: No need to water.
How Much: 1.5" of rainfall per week or if done manually with a hose: 5 minute per tree, 1 minute per shrub and 10 seconds per perennial.
How Often: 1 time per week in normal temperatures. 2 times in hot weather. The soil in the root zone should not become dried out. Do this for at least the first growing season and preferably the second.
How to Apply: Using a hose, apply water over the root area, not the leaves.

Two essential gadgets:

1. Watering Wand - This is a 2.5 ft rigid extension that screws onto the end of the hose. It allows you to water without bending over and it distributes the water in a gentle shower that will not wash the mulch or soil off the root zone. It is available at most garden centers or hardware stores for $10 - $15.
2. Rain Gauge - This is a simple device that sticks into the ground and measures rainfall. If it reads less than 1.5 in of rain per week, you'll know that the plants need more water. Until you pick one of these up, a coffee mug will suffice. Approximate cost is $5.
Do not use a sprinkler to water. Fifty percent of the water is lost through evaporation and the other 50% can lead to excessively high moisture levels on the foliage, resulting in water-born fungi. Sprinklers were meant for lawns.

Jim McSweeney owns and operates Hilltown Tree and Garden LLC, landscape design for Northampton and Western Mass. You can also find (and please "Like" us) on Facebook.

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