Are you overwatering?

Managing your plant, lawn and garden irrigation needs isn’t rocket science — mostly it involves using common sense. But you do have to understand and pay attention to some basic facts:

  1. Different plants have different water needs.
  2. Soils have different water-holding capacities.
  3. Sprinkler systems differ.
  4. Some plants have a protective layer of mulch, and
  5. As the temperature rises and the day lengthens, transpiration (water loss from the leaves) and evaporation from the soil increases. So December’s garden and lawn watering schedule will differ from the schedule used later in the summer.

Unfortunately, far too many people think they have to water every day or every other day to have lush plantings. It is this misconception that wastes water and actually weakens the plants. Horticulturists say that watering trees and plants deeply and infrequently is the key to forcing plants to grow deep roots so they can access water for a longer period of time and thrive through the long, hot summer. Water close to the surface evaporates long before the deeper moisture. Air is forced out of soil that is continually saturated.

Since roots need air, overwatering tends to promote very shallow roots. Here are some dramatic statistics to consider:

  •  Households using automatic timers for irrigation systems use 47 percent more water than in-ground systems that are operated manually.
  • It is best to use the timers only when you plan to be away from home. Experts point out that the timers aren’t very smart…they might be able to prevent sprinklers from operating when it is raining, but they may not remember if it  rained yesterday…or predict if it is going to rain tomorrow! Fortunately, there are some great new ‘smart’ irrigation control devices on the market today…that are affordable and really do provide greater water efficiency.

As a general rule, proper watering means applying 2.5cm of water per week. How long you run your sprinkler system depends on how much water the system applies.

2 comments so far

  1. Greg Aston,

    We live at Whitianga and have a 50 cm sago palm that has been planted in our garden for 9 months and its leaves have recently turned yellow. I cut off the outer leaves and now the leaves that are left are turning yellow also. It is watered infrequently.
    I fear that it is dying, what can I do to save it?

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