You may ask, “What is the big deal? If I want to water the lawn or flower garden I just go out and turn on the hose, or the underground sprinkler, and water. Isn’t that ok?” To have a healthy lawn, flower garden, vegetable garden, or house plants it is helpful to know a few basic facts about watering.

1.     know when and how to water!!! Water your lawn, garden,

and houseplants only when needed. Learn about your plants and how much water they need. Some like lots of water and some are very drought resistant and can be over watered very easy. Save the tag from every plant you purchase so if you forget how to take care of the plant, you have the name and can ask an expert how much water and fertilizer the plant needs, and how often.

To avoid watering problems, plant flowers and shrubs together that need or like lots of water, then plant flowers and shrubs together that are drought tolerant.  That way you do not waste water on plants that do not like a lot of water. Plants and lawns under stress from over watering or under watering are more likely to have disease and insect problems. The same holds true for containers and planter boxes. For maximum growth and flowering, always put plants together that have the same or similar water requirements.

For hanging baskets, make sure the whole root ball is soaked when you water.  This may mean taking it down and thoroughly soaking it in a dish pan or bucket. Do not just pour some water on the plants every so often. Hanging baskets dry out fast. A water wand works very well and is used by most garden centers. Run it slowly and water thoroughly. You will probably have to water every day and twice on some hot days. Watering in the flower and vegetable garden is best done with a soaker hose that keeps the water only where needed. DON’T WASTE WATER!!! 

2.     do not get the leaves wet!!        

          African Violets especially do not like water on their leaves. Get a small watering container with a long spout so you can water into the container. I have an old dishpan I use for my small containers such as Christmas cactus, Geraniums, Amaryllis, and even the Umbrella Palm. I put the pot and all in the dishpan and then add water until the water level is part way up on the pot. I make sure the root ball is thoroughly soaked. This may mean leaving the pot in the water for 15 or 20 minutes. I do not water again until the soil is dry about 1 inch deep. Usually, I put my finger in the soil and if it is dry as deep as my second knuckle, then I water again.

3.     OUTSIDE Do not overhead water after 2:00 p.m. in the Afternoon!!!

             Fungous and other diseases need a drop of water on the leaf going into the cool evening in order to inoculate the plant. Give the plant time to dry before sunset. Better yet, in the flower and vegetable garden, water close to the ground with the hose or a soaker hose. Tomato blight and black spot on roses primarily comes from water splashing up on the leaves as the disease spores are in the soil. A soaker hose does not get the leaf wet, and there is less evaporation during application. In my vegetable garden I have a soaker hose in each row with a timer at the faucet. That way, before I go to work, or to coffee, I can connect the garden hose to a soaker hose, turn on the faucet, and have that row watered by the time I get home. A timer also helps me not over water. When I work in the garden sometimes my 83 years catches up with me and I forget the water is on. The timer turns it off on time and I do not overwater.

4.     HOW TO WATER TURFGRASS!!! According to the University of

Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Service and the Iowa State University Department of Horticulture, Turfgrass requires approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches of water per week.  The actual amount of water required is largely dependent upon soil type, weather conditions, and how much fertilizer you use. When irrigating Turfgrass, the general rule is to apply 1/2 inch two times a week and when we have really hot summer weather three times a week. Make sure the water soaks in and doesn’t run off. Turfgrass plants that have been correctly watered are deeply-rooted and can withstand stressful weather conditions much better than shallow-rooted plants that are a result of lightly watering every day.

Sprinklers at the end of a hose or underground sprinklers are the best way to water a lawn. Going out with the hose in your hand and watering your grass with a Water Wand only invites problems and promotes shallow rooted grass that will dry up in the hot summer if you miss a day. Use a soaker hose for a narrow area such as the strip between the sidewalk and the street.

You probably don’t even know how much water is put on with each cycle of an automatic system. Knowing this is helpful when you have to water in fertilizer or a pesticide. The amount of water applied by your hose end sprinkler or your underground sprinkler can be determined by placing 4 or more rain gauges or small tuna cans or cat food cans within the spray pattern. Water until you get the desired amount of water in the can. You then know how long to run your hose sprinkler, or how to set your underground sprinkler system.

5. DON’T WASTE WATER!!!  Watering in the heat of the day with a sprinkler that is throwing water in the air is wasteful as quite a bit evaporates before it reaches the ground. On a hot day, half the water may be wasted. Keep the sprinkler low to the ground. And do not water so it runs off and into the street. Also remember that the more you fertilize, the more you have to water, and the more you have to mow. Fertilize and water only when needed!!!

Many homeowners call the sprinkler company in the spring. They come

over, turn on the system, set the timer to go on three or four times per week, and check all the heads. Too often the homeowner then forgets about it until fall, drains the system, and turns it off. The system waters the lawn whether it is needed or not, and sometimes even when it is raining. That wastes money and water, both valuable resources. At least once a month turn on your system manually and check each sprinkler head. CHECK YOUR SPRINKLER HEADS AT LEAST MONTHLY AND DO NOT WASTE WATER!!!

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