We’ve all heard that the foundation to having a healthy garden is by giving plants a healthy amount of water. However, many misunderstand this principle one of two ways: not enough water or too much water, with 75 percent of gardeners overwatering their plants.
While water is key, there must be a delicate balance that also includes the following tips on how to do it properly.
1. Loosen up the roots before planting
When purchasing a plant, oftentimes the roots are bound up after being in a confined space, making them grow inward and in a circular fashion. This is why it’s important to loosen up the roots before planting says Russ Bedner, owner and landscape project manager at Bedner’s Farm and Greenhouse.
“Without a healthy root system, your plants can’t get to the water and will likely die in the process,” Bedner said.
Before planting any bound up plant, you need to loosen up the roots by first giving them a good soaking. You will then need to trim the ends, followed by making a series of vertical slits along the root ball to allow new roots to grow and spread throughout the ground to reach the water and nutrients the plant needs.
2. Soak your roots when planting
With any plant, whether root bound or not, Bedner says that it is important to soak the roots before and during the planting process.
“It is best to water before you actually put the mulch down so you’re giving the roots a good soaking, Bedner said in a video. “After you apply your mulch you need to soak it one more time so the mulch doesn’t extract any of the water out of the ground.”
Bedner also suggested that when planting with mulch that you leave your plants 1-2 inches above ground level, so that when you go to water you will be able to give your roots that first essential soaking.
3. Don’t stomp your plants
While backfilling the plant with dirt when planting, many will stomp the dirt around the plant to pack it in. But, according to Bedner, doing this will harm the root system.
“When backfilling the dirt, lightly place it around the plant,” he said. “Doing this will let air pockets form, allowing room for your roots to spread and water to get in and let the ground settle naturally. When the ground settles, just put a little more soil or mulch around to even it out.”
4. Don’t water overhead
Overhead sprinkling may seem like a more efficient way to get water to the leaves of your plants, but according to Bedner, this can do more harm than good.
“Overhead sprinkling is very inefficient and a lot of the water will evaporate before it actually wets the roots,” he said. “It also promotes disease and fungal issues when the leaves stay wet.”
5. Check the soil by touch
Depending on the current climate, you may not need to water as often as you think, especially if you’ve had some good rainfall. But, if you’re wondering if your plants are getting enough water, particularly in the early days before a root system is established, a good way to know is by checking the surrounding soil by touch. Bedner said this is key in annuals because a root system will not develop in the short season they are in bloom.
6. Water trees and shrubs every 3-4 days
Bedner said that a good rule of thumb as it pertains to perennials such as trees and shrubs is to give the roots a good soaking every 3-4 days. And if you want to ensure that the roots are properly wetted, he suggested the use of tree gators and soaker hoses.
Tree gators are bags that are installed around the base of the tree that hold the perfect amount of water to disburse to the roots over a period of 2-3 hours. Soaker hoses can be placed along your planter beds and can be set to a timer to go on and off when you want them to.
For more information on plant watering needs and beyond, make sure to visit Bedner’s Farm and Greenhouse located at 315 Coleman Road in McDonald, Pennsylvania.
This article is sponsored by Bedner’s Farm & Greenhouse.
Arianne Brown is a mother of seven young children who loves hearing and sharing stories. For more of her writings, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: A_Mothers_Write.