Water with care!
My last “outpouring” 🙂 about watering was in March 2012, and back then I was describing having to water my perennials due to the unseasonably hot weather we were experiencing. This year too, we did have a dry, sunny spell in March; however, it did not last in the same way as 2012’s. We experienced a long stretch of cold weather throughout April and May on the back of an extremely wet and windy winter (tough conditions for tender plants that were planted in the garden at the back end of last season, consequently leading to some failures I have observed in some gardens).
So, our spring growth season has come quite late this year and now, suddenly, in late May and early June we are getting relatively hot and dry weather, whilst the rest of Europe is underwater!
With these kind of fluctuations, we need to be really careful that we are watering newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials in a timely fashion. It’s easy to say that “they’ve had plenty of water with the bit of rain,” but the rain may not have soaked the ground to a level that there is a reserve there and one day of manual watering missed during a dry spell and the plant could suffer severe die-back, which, at worst could be fatal, at least may stunt and alter the shape of a plants growth into the future. For example, a tree’s central leader may be lost. Then you could be forced to retrain a new leader to retain the shape of the tree’s crown – not an impossible task but preferably avoided – especially when the nurseryman has spent a long time carefully preparing the tree to have an optimum crown with a beautiful, straight central leader. And if you have brought a large specimen tree, it could have cost you an arm and a leg if it fails through lack of watering.
So, here’s a few basic tips for watering during the dry spell:
- Water newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials daily during protracted dry weather conditions.
- Water preferably in the early morning to avoid scorch. Evening watering is also possible; both times lessen immediate loss of water to evaporation also.
- Target watering for trees and large shrubs allowing the water to soak in deep, immediately around the roots of the tree, holding the hose or watering can close to the main stem. Allow water to soak in and then apply more. A large tree may need attendance for several minutes to ensure enough water has penetrated deep into the soil layers.
- Areas of perennials can be watered with a sprinkler type spray, passing over the area applying water evenly.
- Trees planted less than 5 years ago may still need watering if you have shallow soils or they are prone to drying out rapidly.
- Try to conserve water:
– install a water-butt or two and use these to water during dry spells
– apply a mulch to planted areas (bark or stone or compost) as this will hold water in the soil preventing it evaporating too quickly
– target your watering and try to avoid water loss to hard surfaces or plants not needing it…a watering can is the best way to water as it is a targeted method, but it can take a long time to water a large garden!
– limit the amount of pot plants you own as these require more frequent watering than those planted in beds