Thursday, August 1, 2013

Common Sense Gardening: Spotlight on Summer Watering

It can be hard to believe that in the famously rainy Pacific Northwest water conservation is important, especially in the summer.  It is true that rain falls for many months of the year BUT during the summer months when we use thousands of gallons of water each day to cultivate lush yards, we get less rain than Tucson, Arizona! 

To conserve water in the yard and garden, water as needed in the morning before the sun has a chance to send it all back up as evaporation. Evening is the second best time to water, but wet leaves overnight can encourage fungus and disease. Water saving tools such as soaker hoses and drip lines work well and give water directly to your plants’ roots.  They can also prevent weeds by watering only the plants that need it most. 

Keep water off of the areas that can’t grow such as driveways, sidewalks, and other non-planted areas.  It sounds so simple and yet we often see sprinklers giving precious water to parking lots and other areas from which water simply runs off.

Lawns are less thirsty if we let them go to sleep (dormant) for the summer.  Yes! The lawn may turn brown. No! It will not die. Water deeply but slowly (so that the water doesn’t pool or run off) once each rainless month to support a dormant lawn and try to avoid heavy use.  If you have high-traffic areas, such as grassy walkways or play areas, water those areas only (one inch per week) to prevent damage.  A drier lawn is less likely to encourage crane flies and disease. When the rains return in the fall, over seed any thin areas to thicken the lawn and help crowd out weeds.

Some other water-saving tips:
Choose native or drought-resistant plants.  They don’t need additional watering after they are established, usually within two years.
- Install rain barrels to save up those winter rains for summer use.
 Check outdoor faucets for leaks (and fix them!)
- Adjust automatic irrigation systems.  Many are set up for landscapes that are just getting established. So make sure yours is adjusted to the landscape you have now.
- Add compost to the soil and mulch around plants to prevent weeds and conserve water.
- Use a broom rather than a hose to clean sidewalks and driveways.

Help save water for where we need it most – Drinking!

For more information visit our Common Sense Gardening website or call (360) 867-2674.

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