Watering Your Garden Sensibly – On the House

Watering Your Garden Sensibly

By on August 28, 2015

When we were kids our dad made us work in the garden every Saturday. We turned soil in the flowerbeds, pruned shrubs and hedges and weeded. There was no lawn where we lived. Only flower beds and concrete. Whoops! Almost forgot! We also had several grape vines that wandered their way along hundreds of square feet of wooden trellises nestled a story or so above us. It was hard work, and there was always plenty to do. Dad was pretty strict, so there was no fooling around until everything was done.

For whatever reason, there were no sprinklers in our garden. Furthermore, Dad didn’t want soaker hoses lying in his pristine landscape. By the way, to the best of our knowledge there weren’t any drip systems available in those days either (a drip system could have been hidden). Anyway, we were provided with 3 lengths of garden hose and everything got watered by hand. After the flowerbeds were tilled and weeded we washed down the concrete. Usually, there was enough run-off from that process to provide a super-drink for all of the plants.

Today, who knows why, we both are avid gardeners and love fiddling around in the yard. And, keeping things green is still a challenge that requires lots of attention. Fortunately, we have learned plenty since we were kids and watering techniques make up a big part of our personal bag of gardening tricks.

We would love to have had a full sprinkler system back then. Hand watering took time and when your friends are all out playing time is of the essence. Anyway, today we both have major sprinkler systems to water everything. However, we also utilize other tools to do the job even more thoroughly – and cost effectively as well. And drip irrigation and soaker hoses have a lot to do with how we save – big time. Our vegetable and herb gardens change from season to season and year to year. Therefore the irrigation has to be at least somewhat portable. A soaker hose is great for ever-changing conditions that occur in most vegetable or herb gardens and is easy to set up. And unlike drip irrigation a soaker hose is less prone to clogging. Matter of fact, one season we hooked up a soaker hose to a timer-controlled valve and didn’t have to do a bit of maintenance that entire year.

Soaker hoses can be hand made as well a store bought. All you have to do is punch holes at regular intervals in an old hose and then slide perforated soda cans around each of the holes. The perforated soda cans prevent a high-pressure stream of water from occurring and gently distribute the water. Soaker hoses should be placed under vegetation to prevent the sun’s harmful rays from causing premature deterioration.

A soaker hose can be especially valuable for new plantings. A big problem with any new flower, shrub or tree is lack of water to the root system while the plant is acclimating to its new environment. This means frequent trips to the garden each day to make sure that the plant is getting the water that it needs. OK, flooding in the morning and or again in the evening will also do it, but who wants to do that! A soaker hose works well here. It can be used to provide a constant drip to the root system – without flooding – and it can save up to 70 percent of the water that would otherwise be used – AND – you don’t have to be there to make it all happen. What is it that the guy says on TV? Set it and forget it! A trickle of water into a soaker hose at the base of the plant is all that it takes to “make it happen”.

Good gardeners know that watering the roots – not the leaves – is what is most important. The reason is simple really. Beautiful plants start with a strong root system. A soaker hose sends a small constant trickle of water directly to the roots where it is needed.

By the way, as man cannot live by bread alone, plants cannot live on water alone. Don’t forget that plants need food as well. Provide regular fertilization all throughout your garden – as well as a sensible watering program.

Remember – brown leaves mean not enough (or too much water) and yellow leaves mean not enough nutrition – and that means it’s time to fertilize.

No matter where you live there will eventually be a time when you will have to deal with a water shortage of some kind. And when that happens don’t forget this article. It may help you save at least some of your garden. And that’s all there is to it.

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