When you’re trying to maintain your landscaping, a beautiful garden or a patio of luxurious potted plants, you need to monitor how much water your plants are actually getting.
If you use an irrigation system, or if you water by hand, try setting up little cans to catch the water the system is dispensing. A small decorative container can be a useful gauge for water consumption. Measure the amount of water collected by the can, and you’ll have a good idea of how much water is getting to your plants. This is especially useful in landscaping where you’re using hydrozones, also known as the technique of grouping together plants with similar watering requirements.
If you’re watering by hand only, measure the amount in your watering can. Alternately, time your hose usage by measuring how long your hose takes to dispense a set amount of water, then timing yourself to determine how many units of water you’re spraying onto your plants.
A rain gauge is useful for every gardener. Rain gauges come in a variety of price ranges, with features to measure rainfall, snow, and keep historical records of weather. Some can even send that information wirelessly into a device inside your home, so you don’t even have to step outdoors. Smaller “stake” rain gauges can even look nice in larger potted plants, while keeping you up-to-date on their water status. Several rain gauges, in potted plants and in the ground, can give you a good idea of how much water is going where.
Differences in plants, soil conditions, and even the size of the potting container (if any) will affect how often your plants need water. Savvy home gardeners avoid watering on a set schedule, and instead check to see which foliage needs a good soaking before turning on the hose. Watering late in the day may result in a plant that stays wet all night, which is less than ideal for some plants. You will find that you need to water more on in windy conditions, or divert more water to plants exposed to sunlight for longer hours. On hot days, you will see your water needs spike, too. These are some of many reasons why many home gardeners water reactively, rather than sticking to a set schedule.
For potted plants, water only when the surface of the dirt is dry to the touch. Make sure that the pot isn’t sitting in a pool of water, but do water until the water is running freely from the drainage hole at the bottom.
A layer of mulch, on the top of your containers or over your flower beds can help you monitor water consumption, too. The mulch holds in vital moisture, while deflecting a heavy downpour, so plants are less disturbed in severe weather.
You drink when you’re thirsty. Plants depend on weather conditions and you to keep them hydrated and healthy. With a little observation and maybe a handy gadget, you can keep your garden lush, productive and beautiful for all seasons.