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Watering smart: the key to healthy plants

Daffodils. Note the mulch.

As temperatures rise over the long weekend, one of the perennial questions asked by gardeners is when and for how long should I water my garden? Whether its that native tubestock you recently purchased or a punnet of seedlings, correct methods of watering may make the difference between their survival or demise.

Water is a scarce resource here in Australia — the world’s driest continent — and gardeners should always be mindful of water restrictions imposed by local authorities. The restrictions, though sometimes a difficulty, are of course there for a reason. This is that people needing access to water share equally and important activities such as fighting bushfires aren’t compromised.

The best way is give your plants enough water without wasting the precious resource is to water gently and know when your plants have had enough. Perhaps the most handy tool in your watering in this respect is an appreciation of your soil and when it is quenched. For it is the water holding properties of the soil that determine how long you need to water.

You may wish to consider watering alternatives such as drip irrigation. Invented in dry countries where water is a premium, drip irrigation can be a very effective watering mechanism. The constant drip of this style of irrigation feeds through to the roots with very little in evaporative waste or run off. This is definitely something to consider for individual flower beds or hedging although may be less practical with a large garden.

In Australia one of the key problems with watering is evaporation. The strength of the sun can rob your plants of precious water on hot days. This can be mitigated to an extent though by a layer of mulch to help retain moisture. Use straw, bark chips, sugar cane mulch or whatever is available to perform this duty.

Try watering in the morning or late in the evening (your water restrictions may already force you to do this). This gives water a chance to reach the plants roots long before the midday sun strikes it.

Keep an eye out for plants that appear to be suffering from a lack of water and keep watering regularly. Need any further advice on watering or plant care? Send us a query or pop over to our Facebook Page and start a discussion.

 

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