How to Create a Watering Schedule

Watering your garden is a snap with these helpful hints. Figure out the perfect watering schedule to fit the needs of your garden.

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Your plants get thirsty, too. The correct way to water your plants varies, depending on a number of different factors: seasonality, types of plants, and individual plant needs (just to name a few). By knowing how to correctly establish a plant-watering schedule, you'll be sure to have healthy, hydrated plants and grass.

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When to Water By Season

Spring

Because of the heavy rainfall in the springtime, Mother Nature will take care of a lot of the watering. Be aware of how much rainfall you are getting -- the more the rainfall, the less you have to worry about watering. Water 2 to 3 times per week, depending on the rainfall.

Summer

The heat is starting to come on strong, and so should your watering. Watering should be a top priority during summer, especially when temperatures go above 85 degrees F. In this case, water your plants every day.

Fall

Preparation for winter has begun. Fall is considered to be the end of the growing season, and doesn't need intense watering like summer does. Water your plants 2 to 3 times per week when temperatures are above 40 degrees F and snow hasn't fallen yet.

Winter

Winter requires very little watering when compared to other seasons. Your plants are starting to go dormant for the winter -- watering is only necessary before the frost hits. Once snow hits the ground, you can relax until springtime rolls around. Similar to fall watering, water your plants in the winter 2 to 3 times per week as temperatures are above 40 degrees F and there's no snow on the ground.

How to Water Your Plants

You're not alone in disliking cold showers or cold bathwater; plants hate cold water, too. This is especially true when they are seedlings or growing in pots where there isn't enough soil to absorb the shock. Always water young plants with cool or tepid water, never icy cold.

Check your new transplants every day, especially if the sun is hot, the air is warm, and there is a noticeable breeze or wind. The warm air moving over the open ground will quickly absorb water, sometimes leaving the plant roots in dire straits. New transplants need soil that is evenly and constantly moist, but not soggy. When planting small peat pots directly into the soil (a practice often used with annuals that may not survive root disturbance), be sure that no part of that pot protrudes above the soil. If it does, the dry peat will act like a wick, soaking water from the soil and letting it evaporate into the air.

If you water the new plants with a watering can, turn the rose at the tip so that the holes point upward to the sky instead of down toward the earth. This minimizes soil disturbance. Finally, remember that a little bit of water can be worse than no water at all. When you water, do so thoroughly, letting the moisture soak into the ground where the roots need it—don't merely wet the surface.

Gardening Tip: If you water plants from overhead, do so early enough in the day that the foliage dries before nightfall. A watering-hose attachment provides a gentle spray.

Established plants are much less complicated -- the hard part is officially over! If these plants have been transplanted, be sure to keep an eye on your watering during the first couple of weeks. After this, you can start to lay off a bit. A good rule of thumb is that established plants only need about 1 inch of water per week, but more during the summer heat.

How to Water Your Grass

Give your lawn about an inch of water per week, which equates to at least 3 times per week. The easiest, most convenient way to water your lawn is by using a sprinkler or irrigation system. For more exact measurement, purchase a rain gauge and use it to determine how much water your lawn is getting per week. Watering is best done in the early morning -- the earlier, the better. These lawn-watering rules apply year-round (even during winter). Giving your lawn a good, heavy drink before frost hits will cause it to be less stressed by the incoming cool season.

Gardening Tip: If you can push a 6-inch screwdriver straight through your lawn, you're not watering enough.

Irrigation Options

If these solutions are too worrisome, try building your own irrigation system, or install a sprinkler system in your yard. Drip-irrigation tubing and soaker hoses use water more efficiently than overhead sprinklers, and are very handy if flowers are planted in rows or blocks.

See more smart irrigation systems for your yard.

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