Q: I have an ornamental garden with mixed trees, shrubs and perennials planted in it. It was mulched when we planted it two years ago with wood chips. I have been watering once a week all summer but how much longer do I need to keep watering?

Q: I have an ornamental garden with mixed trees, shrubs and perennials planted in it. It was mulched when we planted it two years ago with wood chips. I have been watering once a week all summer but how much longer do I need to keep watering?

A: Your landscape is relatively young and as such it is important that you have watered it routinely for the summer. Given that August tends to be one of our drier months you will need to be checking your plants for water needs at least until our fall rains arrive. Sometimes this can mean additional watering through September. You mentioned that you have a variety of plant types in your landscape. Your trees and shrubs, once you get through the hot part of August, will not need weekly watering as they prepare for winter dormancy. You might want to keep an eye on perennials, particularly fall bloomers to make sure they are getting adequate water. Their root systems are not as deep as those of the trees and shrubs and they are still in their prime growing season.

Woody plants taper off growth in mid summer and need water to maintain turgidity of their leaves and allow for photosynthesis but are not devoting resources to building new leaves. An exception of course would be an extended drought through fall in which supplemental water might be necessary. Once your landscape matures you will need to keep an eye on shrubs and perennials through the summer but the trees should be able to fend for themselves. One way to mitigate the amount of water you need to apply would be to re-mulch the beds. You can get more wood chips from local arborists. If you have deciduous trees in the landscape, allow those leaves to fall into the beds. Not only will adding mulch save water but it will prevent germination of the pesky fall annual weed crops that love our Northwest gardens!

For more information about watering the garden and for details about vegetable gardens in the fall please call the Garden Hotline.

Laura Matter, Natural Soil Building Program Manager at The Garden Hotline

The Garden Hotline can be reached at 206-633-0224, Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Questions can also be emailed to help@gardenhotline.org.
More information can be found at http://www.gardenhotline.org/

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