When you see the results of May’s rain storms still being felt along the shores of Lake Ontario, it’s hard to believe that you’ll have to water your lawn and landscape plants this summer. However, you should be prepared to do so, especially if you have new plants.
Rain water soaks deeply into the soil. Older plants, especially established trees, have no problem reaching down to the water. But younger plants have not yet developed roots that reach down that far. As a result, they have to depend on recent rain for their water. This means that, when Mother Nature turns off the faucet later this summer, it’s up to your to turn it on
Even if you don’t have recently planted trees, shrubs or perennials, you probably have annuals and containerized plants, and they need watering to supplement rain.
The best watering method for all your needs, except containers and grass, is the use of soaker hoses. You just snake as many hoses as needed close to your plants, connect to the faucet and turn it on a quarter-turn. Turn it on any more and it can blow major holes in the porous hose. Soaker hoses are the next best thing to a drip irrigation system.
Plants need at least an inch of water a week, and it’s best to apply it all in one session. The water slowly “oozes” out of the soaker hose’s porous rubber, so it can take an hour or more to apply an inch.
Many people are re-growing grass that was overseeded to repair the damage from last summer’s drought. New seeding has to be moist all the time. This often means daily watering, sometimes even twice daily. Soaker hoses are impractical for turfgrass so you have to rely on sprinklers. I suggest you water early in the morning or in the evening. If you sprinkle in the heat of the day, much of the water will evaporate before it reaches the ground.
Hand holding a hose and nozzle isn’t recommended. It takes some time to thoroughly soak a lawn. You’ll get tired and sunburned before you apply enough water. Limiting your watering to a surface coating will result in grass plants with weak, shallow roots. If you apply enough water to soak into the soil, you’ll encourage roots to grow deeper and stronger.