Pender Gardener: The right way to water your landscape

Published: Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 02:32 PM.

Editor’s note: This article is the second in a three-part series on proper watering practices for lawns and gardens. Next week’s article will finish out the series with a discussion of watering vegetable gardens.

One of the many challenges of gardening in the southeast is to know when, how much, and how long to water. The answer to this question varies depending on your soil type, recent weather conditions, and plant species. Last week, Sam Marshall shared tips for properly watering your lawn. This week, I will focus on correct practices for watering landscape beds and plantings.

Water-wise Landscape Design

The southeast is an intense environment for plants, especially if they are not adapted to our climate. Water wise design begins with selecting plants suited for our region and grouping them by their water needs. Some plants are more drought tolerant than others. For example, yaupon, muhly grass, lantana, and crape myrtle can go weeks without rainfall and never miss a beat. Under these same conditions plants like hydrangea, Japanese maple, and most annual flowers will shrivel up and die. Grouping plants with similar water needs and drought tolerance together in beds will help you avoid over-watering some plants and under-watering others.

When to Water

Plants need water to survive but watering too frequently can lead to root and crown diseases. So how do you know when plants in your landscape require water? Let them tell you by showing signs of water stress. The most common sign of water stress is wilting that persists into the evening, rather than just during the heat of the day. When several plants in a landscape bed begin to wilt, you know it is time to water.

Plants need to be watered more often during the heat of summer, particularly those that have recently been planted and have not yet established a deep root system. Planting trees, shrubs and perennials in fall will reduce the amount of extra watering they require their first year by giving them extra time to grow roots before the heat of summer returns.

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