Make it Rain!
By LMG Calla Victoria
In this blazing heat I simply have to talk about keeping plants hydrated, and nothing works better for giving thirsty plants a refreshing drink of water then an irrigation system. Who wants to be standing out in this heat watering plants? More then likely you will have to turn the hose onto yourself to cool down WHILE watering your plants.
A lot of people have sprinklers systems with those pop-up heads that come up and spray the area. Sprinkler systems are not very effective in watering plants because they spray everything including sidewalks and steps, etc.; and you are paying for all of that loss water. Soaker systems are so much more effective because they water the roots of the plants ONLY, and not everything else. Most plants pull nourishment from their roots, therefore that is the only area of the plants that requires water. You can install a soaker system for a fraction of what you will pay to have a sprinkler system installed, and include a timer and voila’ you are in business! Soaker hoses are also referred to as drip irrigation systems because the water seeps out of the soaker hoses very slowly, in fact it looks like the hose is sweating more than watering. So because the water comes out more slowly, it can water the plants deeply. You do have to run soaker systems for longer periods of time then you do sprinkler systems, at least an hour or two. The take away is that ALL of the water used by the soaker hose goes to the root of the plants and you definitely get your money’s worth. And with the technological advances in irrigation you can even program the irrigation system through your smart phone and schedule times to water your garden on demand. Soaker hoses are quite in expensive, costing only about $8 for twenty-five feet of hose. Buy as many as you need and place them around your plant material (circling the thirsty plants a couple of times), cover the system with mulch, attach it to a timer which you program through your mobile phone and you are in business.
An example of a soaker system Multi-port timer for soaker system
Aside from masking the ugly soaker hoses, Mulch is excellent for retaining moisture around plants and suppressing weeds. Some soils like Miracle Gro potting soil retain moisture, so definitely use it in your outdoor containers and around those heavy feeders that you may have in your garden like hydrangeas, and wave petunias. Also use it around plants that are near trees because the trees’ large roots suck up a lot of water and smaller plants might suffer. But if the plants near your trees are surrounded with moisture-retaining soil and mulch, they will fair out very well.
I like lush plantings because it forms a privacy hedge, hides ugly structures in my neighbor’s yard, and suppresses weeds. But with dense plantings, you must pay attention to those plants that are not thriving and add some mulch and moisture-retaining soil around them.
Also, by all means include a rainwater harvesting system in your irrigation plans. Did you know that for every inch of rainfall, we can expect to collect 600 gallons on 1000 square feet of collection area, that means that every square foot of roof will collect 0.6 gallons of rainwater for every inch of rain that falls. Because you will get a LOT of water from your roof you will need several rain barrels to harvest all of the water that your catchment system will generate.
An example of a rainwater harvesting system
Check out my "Gardening Tip of the Week."
Remember, never get too busy to stop and smell the beautiful flowers!