‘How to…’ Series #1: Water Correctly

Thoughts and musings

‘How to…’ Series #1: Water Correctly

Lewis | July 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

You can view a concise PDF version of this blog post by clicking here. From there you can save as well as print the version for your own leisure. Happy reading!

We promised you a few weeks ago, after the end of our immensely popular Garden Pests Series, that we would bring you a new series of blogs. And here it is! In between all the other responsibilities they have, our marketing team have banged their heads together and the idea of a ‘How to…’ series was hatched. This can range from all aspects of landscaping and gardening. In fact, if it involves external spaces, you could bank that we will cover it in this series. Another bonus is that this series will run indefinitely; the Garden Pests Series was limited to the 26 letters of the alphabet, but there is no such restriction here! So enough of the usual ‘opening paragraph’ small talk – let’s delve into the harder-than-you-think realm of watering your garden plants properly.

It can be very easy to think that standing in one place in your garden with your hose on full drenching anything and everything is the right thing to do when watering your plants. However, there is so much more to it. Different plants have different requirements and this has to be taken into account. It is almost certain that you will need to change your watering scheme due to the number of different species you may keep. Other factors such as the amount of sunlight and shade in your garden will also affect required water volumes.

The first piece of advice I will give you is to never overwater your plants. As a rule of thumb, overwatering is often more detrimental than under-watering. It is easy to undertake the mindset that because plants need water to survive, you should give them a lot of it! I implore those who take this mindset: please stop! You will essentially will be killing them with kindness. It is more than likely that all gardeners have inadvertently killed a plant or two in this manner. If you suspect you are overwatering your plants, you can check the soil around them for moss, mushrooms, algae and other fungi, which are all telltale signs. You can also check for an odd smell, which often is an indication that the roots of the plant are rotting.

Now that you’ve got a fair idea of what to keep an eye on, your next goal is to (hopefully) never see these in your garden! There are a number of different means as to checking your watering levels for different plants. You can purchase inexpensive, but very useful water meters from most good vendors. These are placed in the soil and measure how much water is being held. This way, you can water different plants according to these readings instead of playing what essentially is a guessing game.

Special care must also be taken when it comes to the watering of container plants. Often, these pots are non-porous and water can be held for a long time, especially if these potted plants sit in the shade for long periods. This slows down the rate of evaporation and can result in the above overwatering symptoms. Tips include creating a  number of drainage holes in the bottom of these pots, which allow water to escape, all the while keeping the soil in a moist state for the benefit of the plant. Including a light soil with potted plants which is well aerated is also beneficial.

The bottom line is this: you must educate yourself on the different plants in your garden. Discover where they come from, the conditions in which they thrive and group plants together that share similarities in these fields. For all the effort you can put in, though, it only takes a freak downpour of rain to negate your watering efforts. However, it is possible that you can save overwatered plants. I recommend, for starters, to change the plant’s soil to a more grittier one, as this will aid drainage. On top of this, you should use containers that help the evaporation of any moisture that is in excess. Terra cotta containers are very useful for this.

Sometimes, however, it is simply impossible to save an overwatered plant. At least, with an under-watered plant, you stand a chance by watering it correctly, that it can make a recovery. But when overwatering is concerned, a plant can simply be too wet to stand a chance for survival. The best you can do is to treat an affected plant as soon as possible, as the more time that elapses, the less chances of survival will be.

So there you go! The opening issue of our ‘How to…’ Series. This first issue was inspired by two blogs from the Garden Pests Series about overwatering and under-watering; we feel that this gardening issue is of exceptional importance that we must emphasise it! We hope you enjoyed this post, stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter to get the next one as soon as it’s published!