Fall is just a few days away and boy, is it dry already. In today's post, we are sharing tips to keep your gardening beds well-watered now and in this upcoming season.
Did you know? Fall is typically the driest season in our region of Middle Tennessee. Before knowing this, I would have naturally thought summer would be the driest season just because it is so hot, but that is usually not the case. It is common to think that you water newly planted trees and other plants in the spring and summer, but many do not realize the importance of watering once the weather cools down, too.
How Much to Water
We are experiencing weeks without a good rain as I type this. In my garden, I planted three Emerald Arborvitaes and two Crape Myrtles this summer. I have been watering them deeply every 3 days in the evening once the sun is almost down. They are all looking good, but I know I need to stay on top of babying them or they will not stay healthy for long. I will be committed to watering them like this for the next year, unless we are getting adequate rainfall during certain weeks.
Why Deep Waterings are Important
Newly planted plants are just beginning to get their roots established. It can take a year for roots to become well-established in the ground. That is one main reason why deep waterings are so crucial the first year you have planted trees and shrubs (perennials and grasses too). For roots to grow down deep and become strong, they need a good, steady water source. At my house, I do not have irrigation, so I take a hose and move it around my yard and let it go at a medium stream of water for about 20 minutes on each new tree or shrub. You want to point the water at the base of the plant as much as possible. Letting the water sit there for that long allows the water to seep deep into the ground, encouraging the roots to search after that water. The roots then stretch and grow deeper over time. This will encourage the development of a healthier, sturdier plant because of those deep waterings.
When to Water
Watering in early morning or later in evening is best. The reason is because the sun will evaporate much of the water during the middle of the day and it will be wasted. Also, when watering, try to keep the water at the base of the plant as much as possible to help prevent disease on the leaves of the plant caused by water sitting on the leaves for a long time.
During this current time of literally no rainfall (for many weeks), I have also increased my watering schedule to include established shrubs and trees. Established plants are those that have been planted for more than a year or so. I have a Dogwood that was planted about 5 years ago and has looked amazing, but now its leaves are drying up rapidly. I have added it, my Roses, and all my Hydrangeas (all of these are established plants) to my watering schedule at night, every 3-4 days, during this intense heat with no rainfall.
Evergreens do not show signs of distress like deciduous plants do. Deciduous plants and trees start losing their leaves or looking dry when they are in need of water, like in the case of my Dogwood I mentioned above. Evergreens are not like that. They usually look pretty good or great until they are truly drying up. I have learned to baby my evergreens during the first year (deeply watering them every 3-4 days unless we are getting adequate rainfall), even if they look amazing.
Mulch helps! A lot, actually! Mulch around the base of a plant helps keep water in during the hot months, and then in winter, it helps provide warmth to the base of the plant. Mulch not only looks pretty, but adds a lot of functionality to the gardening bed.
If you have newly planted perennials, you will probably not need to water 20 minutes on each plant. Use your judgement and keep an eye on them. I still water mine every 3-4 nights while they are getting established. Time out in the garden watering is time for me to reflect on the day and is very relaxing for me. Other times, if I can't take that time, I set the timer on the stove and make dinner/ help the kids with their homework/ etc. inside while the hose is set at the bottom of a plant. I have learned- always set a timer! At least, if you're like me, who has been prone to forget the hose is on and remember an hour later! :)
Please feel free to ask us any questions below! We hope these tips will help you when watering your plants now and in the upcoming fall season.