WATER TO THE GARDEN
don’t have to live in the South of England
to have dry winters. In N. Ireland, last winter
was mild and dry and the spring has brought
less rain than in previous years.
By the middle of April my ground was dry and
starting to crack. Depending how you look at
it the good or the bad news is that all that
can change overnight.
The plants that suffer most from dry weather
are those that have recently been planted and
whose roots haven’t managed to spread
out in search of water.
Plants such as young trees and hedging that
were planted with their roots bare will be more
at risk than those planted from pots with a
ball of compost or soil held together by the
shrubs and perennials that were planted last
spring and have had time to become established
should be able to fend for themselves although,
in a prolonged dry period, these too may need
to be watered.
Dishing the soil surface around the root area
will allow rain to collect where it is most
needed. If your ground is still moist applying
a 2 inch deep mulch of composted bark will prevent
the soil drying out due to evaporation. It will
also help to deter weeds that steal valuable
moisture from other more desirable plants.
You can make your own mulch mats by cutting
old carpet or underlay into 2-3 ft diameter
circles with a slit to the centre. After watering
slip one on the soil surface around each tree
or shrub to retain water and smother weeds.
Remember to remove them when it is raining or
the water will run off into the soil beyond
the root zone.
applying water by hose remember that it is the
roots that will benefit most therefore direct
the flow onto the soil surface rather than the
a sprinkler is being used, then make sure that
sufficient is being applied before you move
it to another area. It is surprising how long
it take before the upper layer of topsoil is
wet. Scrape the soil surface to make sure that
the water has penetrated to a useful depth.
Set out a saucer and when it is overflowing
change the position of the sprinkler.
New lawns are a problem. If the seed hasn’t
germinated I would be tempted not to water.
If you do use the sprinkler then the small seedlings
will need regular supplies to prevent them dying.
If the soil remains dry after the seed has germinated
then, depending on soil type, daily use of the
sprinkler is essential.
Whenever possible water in the early evening
when the heat of the day is over and there will
be less lost through evaporation. Wetting the
plants leaves when the sun is shining may cause
the foliage to scorch and turn brown.
you are using a two gallon watering can bear
in mind that each plant may need a gallon of
When plants growing in pots of compost dry out
they are difficult to water. It runs straight
through where the compost has shrunk away from
the side of the container.
will be necessary to plunge the pot into deep
water until the bubbles stop appearing. Lift
it out and allow it to drain.
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