by Connie Oswald Stofko
I once saw a garden that was the kind I wanted to have. It was full of healthy, vibrant flowers. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the plants in that garden were the same ones I already had in my own garden.
“Why doesn’t my garden look like yours?” I asked the gardener. “What are you doing that I’m not doing?”
Her response: “Water when it rains; water when it doesn’t.”
Think about it. You might notice that it’s raining out, but how hard is it raining? How long does the rain last? There might not be enough rain to make it all the way down to the roots of the plant.
Even if we do get a soaking rain, the soil can dry out in just a day or two of hot weather.
If you hear there’s a 70 percent chance of rain, that doesn’t mean you can automatically cross watering off your list; 30 percent of the time, it won’t rain.
And even if it rains somewhere in Western New York, it might not rain on your garden.
And if it does rain on your garden, how much rain fell…
So water when it rains and water when it doesn’t. Since I’ve been following that rule, my landscape looks great.
How to water
You have to water properly; that is, you have to get water to the roots. If you’re not getting water to the roots of the plant, don’t even bother. Moistening the top of the soil is no help to the plant.
Water slowly and thoroughly. Set your hose to a dribble, place the hose on the ground at the root ball and allow the water to slowly soak into the soil. A hose connected to a rain barrel works great because the water comes out slowly.
Remember that if you have mulch on the top of the soil, you have to allow the water to get through the mulch first, then down into the soil all the way to the roots. Poke your finger into the soil to see if the soil is moist.
If the weather is hot and dry, you may have to water every day. If you have a lot of plants to water, it’s better to water a few plants properly, then water other plants properly the next day, rather than spritzing all your plants lightly in one day. And don’t spray the leaves; the leaves can’t absorb water for the plant.
Containers in hot, dry weather may have to be watered more than once a day.