Tips for Watering Your Garden

Keep your garden hydrated and healthy with these simple ideas for watering your plants.

Water Bulbs in Pots While Under Cover

Water Bulbs in Pots While Under Cover

Water individual pots regularly in dry conditions and when growing under cover. Use a fine spray to prevent displacing soil in small pots.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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To ensure your plants thrive rather than wilt or struggle to survive, it’s important to water them efficiently. If you understand the needs of different plants, you can use techniques that deliver water where it is needed most.

Efficient Watering

Adequate water and sound watering methods are essential for healthy plant growth. Poor watering does more harm than good: drenching plants with abandon can leave roots exposed if compost is washed away or soil is eroded by the fast flow of water. If there is puddling on the soil surface and the ground becomes waterlogged, roots may rot.

Water is a valuable resource, both in environmental terms and for your wallet if you are on a water meter. The aim of effective watering techniques is to reduce the need for watering and use water effectively and economically when you do water.

To reduce moisture loss through evaporation, water plants in the cool of the evening or early in the morning. This ensures water reaches roots with minimum waste. Timing is critical. Although it may occasionally be necessary to water in the heat of day, avoid it if you can.

If beds, borders, or vegetable patches need watering, avoid the temptation to freshen them up by sprinkling water lightly over a wide area. Light watering won’t penetrate the soil and may encourage roots to develop closer to the surface. This makes plants more susceptible to drought and in need of repeated watering. Instead, give individual plants a thorough soaking by watering directly above the root area. Let the water soak in before applying more.

Needy Plants

Start with newly planted seedlings, then established plants. Close attention needs to be paid to newly sown grass or recently planted beds and borders, plants in pots, and most fruit and vegetables. Elsewhere, keep an eye on plants growing under trees and hedges along with those planted under an overhang or trained against a wall or fence. Generally, established plants growing in soil do not require watering, but their growth is usually improved by watering in drought conditions.

Revive a Wilted Basket

If a summer hanging basket begins to flag, plunge it into a sink, bowl, or bucket of water. Once the compost is moist, remove it, and let excess water drain away. Replace dead plants, and trim damaged growth. Restore baskets by immersing them in water and leaving them there for a little while. They will draw the moisture they need through their roots.

Watering Baskets and Containers

Rainfall alone will not keep hanging baskets and containers moist; the foliage will often act like an umbrella, keeping the compost beneath dry. To ensure plants in pots thrive, water regularly and thoroughly, especially in the summer. When planting containers, leave a 2-inch (5 cm) gap between the top of the compost and the lip of the container to act as a well for water to gather and then filter down to the roots of the plants.

To water baskets, remove the rose from a watering can, and pour water slowly beneath the foliage, directly onto the compost. Place trays under patio containers to act as a reservoir in summer. Although plants in pots are most demanding while in active growth, they also need occasional watering in dry spells over the winter. 

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