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Practice Smart Watering For Healthier Plants

This article was originally published by the EPA.

Too much of a good thing

Did you know that watering too much or too little is the cause of many common plant problems? You can have healthier plants, save money on water bills and conserve precious water resources by learning to give your lawn and garden just what they need, and no more.

Water deeply, but infrequently

Most plants do best if the soil is allowed to partially dry out between waterings. A loss of shine or footprints remaining after you walk across the lawn indicates that it’s time to water. Vegetables and other annuals should be watered at the first sign of wilting, but tougher perennials (plants that live several years) need water only if they stay droopy after it cools off in the evening. Trees and shrubs usually don’t need any watering once their roots are fully established (two to five years), except in very dry years.

Make every drop count

Some easy ways to lower water bills and get more water to plants include:

  • Build your soil with compost and mulch to hold water and reduce evaporation.

  • Choose low-water-use plants. Once established, they can often thrive just on rainfall.

  • Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation on beds — they can save 50 percent or more compared with sprinklers.

  • Use an outdoor water timer (available at garden stores) to water just the right amount, frequency and time of day. Water lawns separately from other plantings. Make sure sprinklers aren’t watering the pavement.

  • When soil is dry or compacted, it won’t absorb water quickly. If water puddles, stop watering a while and then restart so the water has time to soak in.

  • Water in the early morning — if you water at mid-day, much of the water just evaporates. Evening watering should be avoided because it can encourage the growth of mold or plant diseases.

  • In a dry spell, you can allow an established lawn to go dormant. Water just once a month and brown areas of the lawn will bounce back in the fall.

Let the rain soak in

Rain rushes off roofs, pavement, and compacted soil. This causes flooding downstream, erodes stream banks and muddies the water, which harms fish and other wildlife. You can help slow this run-off and help the soil hold the moisture plants need in the summer.

  • Direct downspouts out into lawns, rain gardens, or “rain barrels.”

  • Use compost and mulch to reduce erosion and help rain soak in.

  • Use open pavers, gravel, or other pavement options that let rain seep into the soil.

  • Plant dense strips of native trees, shrubs, and groundcovers next to streams, lakes, and ditches to stabilize the soil and to slow and filter run-off

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Source: EPA


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