In the Willamette Valley, we experience a variety of seasons and weather conditions. This can make watering your landscape tricky. Most of the time in winter and spring, Mother Nature provides adequate water and we don’t need to turn on our irrigation systems. However, as we start into the summer months the ground starts drying out.
Here are some gardening tips to keep in mind as we approach hotter months:
- For a newly planted landscape, water regularly. The plant roots are close to the soil surface and will dry out far more quickly than an established plant. A newly seeded lawn, for example, will require monitoring on a daily basis. If it is an exceptionally hot season, watering may need to be as frequent as twice a day. Many new lawns will react better to their home if they manage to stay moist throughout the sun’s duration for their first one to two weeks.
- In established landscapes, it is better to water less frequently (2-3 times/week), but for longer periods of time. This will encourage the water to go deeper into the soil and the roots will follow. The Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) recommends that the average lawn receives 1.5” of water during hot/dry spells.
- Gardeners should water in the morning while it is cool out. Ideally, set your sprinklers on a timer for 5 am-6 am. In addition to being easier on the gardener, this will reduce evaporation and fungal problems. Plants that are watered late in the day create ideal conditions for fungal growth.
- Apply a layer of mulch to your planting beds. This will help keep the moisture from evaporating from the soil.
- The amount you will need to water largely depends on soil type. Different types of soil will retain water for different periods of time. For example, compost can be added to sandy soils to help them retain water. It can also be added to loosen clay soils, subsequently improving drainage.
- Containers and hanging baskets will need more frequent watering. Hanging baskets located in the full sun will need watering every day. While watering, you will likely have to re-water a container a few times to get the moisture level deep enough. Avoid letting the soil in your containers/raised beds dry out completely! This will make it very difficult for that soil to absorb water.
- Maintain your irrigation system. Spray heads can become damaged, clogged, or blocked by foliage. Make sure they are all running efficiently and providing adequate coverage.
- Avoid over-watering! Too much water can be as problematic as not enough. Plants will begin to rot and their leaf edges will become discolored if they overfed. You can Stick your finger about 1” deep into the soil and determine whether it’s moist or dry if you are unsure