Watering Vegetable and Flower Gardens: Water-Wise Gardening and Landscape Maintenance
Water-Wise Gardening and Landscape MaintenanceWatering There are many variables to water slowly enough so it absorbs consider when trying to deter- without ponding or running off. mine when and how much to During warm weather, waterVegetable water vegetable gardens, flower beds, and perennials. As a general rule, beds should be watered loamy soils approximately every 5 to 7 days with 1 to 2 inches of water. Water sandy soils twice aand Flower when the top several inches of soil is dry. Dig down 2 to 4 inches with week. These recommendations are an average and varyGardens a trowel to determine if soil needs depending on the site and envi- additional water. Dry soil will not ronmental conditions. Watch hold together to form a ball. plants and adjust amounts and frequency as needed.Best Management Practices If water is needed, thoroughly moisten the soil to a depth of The plant population also influ- 6 to 8 inches. In well amended ences the amount of water or prepared soil, this should take needed to sustain a growing bed. 1 to 2 inches of rain or irrigation. The more plants growing in a Check rainfall amounts to ensure given area, the greater the that moisture is adequate. demand for water. Spacing plants Consider watering after a light further apart but within optimum rain to to take advantage of parameters requires less water. An nature’s contribution. Mulching ideal plant population allows beds also helps conserve moisture foliage to overlap, shading soil and extend the irrigation interval. between plants and reducing evaporation from the soil’s Soil type influences water infiltra- surface. tion rate, holding capacity, and root establishment. A good root When planting gardens or flower system improves the plant’s ability beds from seed, water thoroughly to take up water. Amending the after planting to establish a soil with organic matter such as reserve in the top few inches of compost, peat moss, cotton burr, soil. Keeping the seed bed moist or manure opens heavy soil so it supports germination and softens can receive moisture more readily. soil, allowing seedlings to emerge. It helps sandy or porous soil retain Apply ¼ inch of water daily – moisture. Vegetable gardens early in the morning or in the should only be amended with evening – for the least amount of manure in the fall after crops have evaporation. Lightly cover the been removed. planted seedbed with sand, compost, or potting soil to help When daytime temperatures seedlings emerge, and distribute average 85 degrees, water clayey moisture evenly around the seed. soils once a week with 1 to 2 inches of water, unless rainfall is At planting time, water vegetable adequate. If necessary, water in or flower transplants with a water- increments, applying ½ inch at a soluble starter fertilizer solution at time and waiting 30 minutes one-half rate to settle soil around between waterings. This allows the root system. Water new trans- Kansas State University clayey soils to absorb water plants every two to three days for Agricultural Experiment Station without ponding on the surface. the first two weeks. Decrease and Cooperative Extension Service Trickle irrigation usually applies watering to twice a week for the
third and fourth weeks to Do not expect to thoroughly applying. A garden hose left onencourage root establishment. water established plants in a the ground retains water thatWhen growth is observed, begin vegetable garden or flower bed heats in the sun and may scaldwatering at recommended inter- with a handheld hose. Overhead foliage. If the hose was left at thevals, factoring in rainfall amounts watering of garden or landscape base of a plant, hot water mayand soil type. plants during the hottest part of a damage roots of sensitive plants. sunny, mid-summer afternoon will Water allowed to pond on theHigh temperatures, wind, and not damage plants by magnifying bed’s surface also can reachslopes also determine moisture sunlight through water droplets. scalding temperatures.retention. High temperatures and In fact, cool water moderateswind lead to water loss from evap- stress associated with intense Water with a high salt content isoration. Water runs off steep afternoon heat. Spraying plants damaging. The soil testing labora-slopes unless applied slowly or in with cool water is sometimes used tory at K-State can test irrigationincrements. Add ¼ inch of water as a cultural practice for that water for salinity. Water tainted byat a time, and allow 30 minutes purpose. salt or chemicals and flushed ontobetween waterings. Repeat irriga- plants from adjacent surfaces cantion and give water time to perco- When irrigating garden or land- also cause damage.late through soil particles until scape plants with a garden hose,adequately moist. be sure water is cool before Authors: Emily Nolting, commercial landscape/ornamental horticulture specialist Ward Upham, extension horticulture rapid response coordinator Phil Sell, Shawnee County horticulture agent Brand names appearing in this publication are for product identification purposes only. No endorsement is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned. Publications from Kansas State University are available on the World Wide Web at: www.oznet.ksu.edu Contents of this publication may be freely reproduced for educational purposes. All other rights reserved. In each case, credit Emily Nolting et. al., Watering Vegetable and Flower Gardens, Kansas State University, January 2008.Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension ServiceMF-2804 January 2008K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, asamended. Kansas State University, County Extension Councils, Extension Districts, and United States Department of Agriculture Cooperating, Fred A. Cholick, Director.