Q: What is the proper way to water my lawn?

Q: What is the proper way to water ornamental beds (plans with big leaves and grow tall.)?

Q: What is the proper way to water my lawn?

A: Rotating or oscillating sprinklers are appropriate for watering lawns, and it’s best to water infrequently but deeply to encourage deep root growth.  Frequent, shallow watering can make your lawn susceptible to drought stress, thatch, and weed problems.  One inch of water per week is the general rule; it is easy to determine when your sprinklers have delivered the proper amount.  Take several empty tuna or cat food cans and set them out in separate areas on the lawn.  Mark a one-inch line on each can, turn your sprinklers on and check to see how long it takes for water to reach the mark.

Q: What is the proper way to water ornamental beds (plans with big leaves and grow tall.)?

A: Many mature trees and shrubs do not need much supplemental water.  If you do water, it is best to use a drip or soaker hose rather than a sprinkler. You can manually water with a hose, but try to water the root zone rather than overhead watering. This keeps plant foliage dry, helping to prevent disease problems. 

Just like lawns, infrequent, deep watering is best.  How long you need to water depends a lot on your soil.  In sandy soils, water moves downward quickly but does not spread very wide.  The opposite is true for clay soils. If your soil contains good organic matter, water spreads both horizontally and vertically in the soil.  Your soil may be somewhere in between, so determine what’s right for your garden.  Turn your soaker hose or drip line on for ½ hour and then check with your finger to see how far and wide the water has penetrated. Covering your soaker hoses or drip lines with 1-2″ of organic mulch will cause the water to spread wider and decrease evaporation. . 

If you already have an automatic sprinkler system or are planning to install one, you may be eligible for a rebate. Go to the Saving Water Partnership website at http://www.savingwater.org to see if you qualify.

Column: Tips and tricks for your garden and lawn
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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