Over the hotter months it can feel like all you’re doing is watering the garden to try to keep it looking its best. During these warmer periods, plants quickly lose moisture through their leaves, so it’s important to keep on top of the watering to replenish their roots and keep your garden looking healthy, but we know it can feel like a never-ending task too!
With a few simple tips, it’s easy to make sure no plant, lawn or veggie patch ever goes thirsty again! Below we’ll discuss the benefits of different watering methods, and you’ll also find some handy tips thrown in to help you keep your garden hydrated all year long – particularly in the summer months.
Plants prefer rainwater to tap water, which is why it’s always a good idea to have a water butt in your garden if you have space. It’ll not only give you an instant supply of water as and when you need it, but it’s also an eco-friendly way of watering your garden.
Simply place a rainwater barrel by a closed or open drainpipe, using a water butt diverter kit to tap into the supply of a closed drainpipe. Make sure you clean these once a year to prevent the spread of disease, using any water you’ve collected on established plants.
Top tip: When using multiple water butts, rotate your use of these so you keep the water inside as fresh as possible.
Watering cans and hoses
Most of the watering in your garden should be aimed beneath the foliage of your plants, directed straight at the base of the stems – a hose or garden watering can are both ideal. This will leave the soil surrounding your plants dry, helping to make sure the water’s going straight to where it’s needed – this’ll not only save water but also mean those pesky weeds aren’t being hydrated in the process!
Top tip: Always water your plants in the cool of the evening or very early in the morning to stop the water evaporating quicker than you can water (like in the middle of the day)!
Some garden hoses have small holes in them, which helps them water rows of plants evenly and effectively. Easily hidden beneath mulch or soil, this also prevents any water from being lost due to evaporation.
Top tip: Place in heavy soil as this will make the water go further – in lighter soils, the water tends to sink rather than moving sideways.
If you’ve got quite a lot of watering to do and your hosepipe won’t stretch all the way to the bottom of your garden, a garden water sprayer is the perfect accessory. Designed with a larger capacity than a standard watering can, these sprayers often come with shoulder straps so they’re easy to carry around your garden. They also double up as a great weed sprayer, holding insecticides, pesticides and herbicides – but it’s best to use a separate sprayer for this to avoid any cross-contamination.
Top tip: Make sure you’re constantly on the lookout for weeds. These little blighters use up valuable soil moisture reserves. Pull up by hand as you do your watering – or use a hoe in dry conditions to cut off any foliage from the root. Sorted!
A sprinkler system is a must-have if you’re after a lush, green lawn, as it’ll provide great coverage to those areas that need it most. They’re also perfect for using in unplanted areas where you need to increase the moisture level.
Top tip: A water sprinkler is also ideal for keeping the kids entertained during the warmer summer months. They’ll love jumping through them when they want to cool off!
If you’ve got a lot of things to water and just don’t have the time to keep on top of it all, an automated irrigation system can be a lifesaver. Great for replacing hoses and watering cans, drip irrigation or sprinkler irrigation systems allow you to water a large number of plants just by turning one tap on.
Top tip: Apply a thick layer of mulch, compost or chip bark on soil between plants to help keep the moisture in and suppress weeds.
Before you start watering your plants, it’s worth checking the water requirement for each one so you can be sure you’re giving them everything they need. Here’s some general guidance:
Newly sown areas: These need watering on a regular basis as they’re prone to water stress and need all the help they can get to start growing!
Fruit and veg: Any edible produce needs careful watering because droughts can affect the part of the plant that’s edible. Make sure leafy crops (i.e. spinach and lettuce) are never without water. Other crops tend to need watering when you’ve sown them, when you transplant them and when they come to fruit. It’s also worth watering them once again approximately two weeks before they’re due to be harvested (and more regularly in any particularly dry spells). Onions need little, if any, watering.
Herbaceous perennials: To boost their growth, particularly during hot, dry periods, they will need watering. To achieve a border that’s drought proof, opt for plants that are tolerant to periods of dry weather, e.g. lavender.
Recently planted shrubs and trees: For shrubs and trees that have been planted within the last five years, you’ll need to keep them well hydrated as they’re still vulnerable to drought stress.
Established shrubs and trees: Due to their large roots, they don’t usually need watering. However, during droughts, their growth may benefit from a good watering.
Find everything you need to keep your garden hydrated this summer in our watering section at wilko.com