THAT is the Question!
When it comes to proper watering and timing, there is a whole list of guidelines. We’d like to sum up the key practices we feel are most important:
1’’ of water per week sustains most plants.
Deeper thorough watering is better than frequent shallow watering.
Pots or anything above ground need checked daily, especially if sitting in the sun all day.
Every-other-day watering typically keeps things alive, especially if rooted in.
Remember, thick plants can act like umbrellas and can make understory plants dry while other areas of the yard are adequately watered.
With NEWLY Planted Plants:
Check daily during the first two weeks. (This does not necessarily mean you need to water, but analyze!)
Check every other day by the third week.
After that, every third day should be adequate.
In Extreme Temperatures:
When we have a few days in a row where it is over 85 degrees, these hot temps can trump these guidelines and force more waterings.
If possible saucer the mulch around a plant, so the water can collect exactly where it is needed and does not run off (saves time and water).
For Lawns: (established ones)
Water twice a week, 3 times tops per week (Watering every day or more frequently leads to disease issues due to the constantly wet foliage.)
Water in the morning, saves on your water bill because less evaporates and allows the plant to dry out before nightfall. Over watering the foliage is common practice with Roses and turfgrass. (Overwatering leads to disease, which is everywhere in Columbus this year!)
Water until at minimum ½’’ of water is put down. Often over an hour for a rotating sprinkler!
The Actions (How to Water Properly)
First, know that established trees, flowers, and shrubs may not need any additional watering or as little as once a week, pending rainfall.
No spray nozzles! These usually disperse too fine of a droplet, unless you hold the nozzle for 20 -30 minutes per spot!
Watering wands or nothing at the end of the hose allows large water droplets at a slow rate. Place the wand or end of house at the base of the plant to thoroughly water the plant.
The larger the plant, the longer the time needed (soil and grade come into play as well). At full pressure:
Small flowers 10-30 seconds
Shrubs 1-2 minutes
Trees 5-10 minutes
If possible, throttle down the pressure to ¼ or ½ rate and allow time for the water to percolate to directly where it is needed.
We will irrigate new trees for one hour at a slow trickle
If Irrigation is a must, allow the zone or sprinkler to run until you have watered at least ½’’ over the space.
Place a bucket or cup to measure the volume.
Also, Be Mindful that:
Watering takes time, it is a slow process.
You want wet soil, not wet mulch, get the water down deep.
When temperatures are 90 and above, this heat starts to shut down Ohio plants.
Most turf grasses start to go dormant at 80 to 85 degrees. If the temperatures are sustained, no matter how much you water (Especially Kentucky Bluegrass and Rye grass- 80% of all Central Ohio lawns)
Shade vs. Sun—a cloudy day can almost eliminate watering if the soil was already moist.
Almost all plants prefer late afternoon shade.
We use compost in our landscape bed preparation, it creates a retainer of moisture and eliminates quite a bit of watering!
When in Doubt:
Stick your hand in the soil. You want the soil moist, not soupy (too wet), and not crumbly (too dry). When soil has the ability to just make a mud clod, the hydration is perfect.
Unless it is a new plant (less than two years from installation), not watering is the easy answer on whether to water. We see more issues with OVER watering than under watering as reason for struggling plants.
As you now know, watering is not easy! It can be time consuming, but thoughtful analysis is required to be accurate. Golf courses use expensive metering devices to analyze the needs for their turf on greens and fairways—this is not practical for a homeowner.
Please Note: At the Molly and Joel's house landscape, we did not use our irrigation system until mid- July. We had plenty of rain to maintain our lawn. At the MJ Office, we really did not start watering pots until late May, and then the landscape in late June, when temperatures were rising.
Happy Watering! Call us with your questions or if you'd like to schedule help: 614.873.7333