Watering Plants with Sprinklers or Watering Cans

All plants require adequate amounts of water and there will be occasions when it is necessary to water artificially. However, watering your plants is not just a case of pouring water onto them.  In fact this can do more harm than good. There are a few rules you should bear in mind when applying water.

First, never add water in small amounts. It is essential to give enough water to get right down to the roots of the plant where they need it. Applying little water often, will make the plant roots come to the surface of the soil to search for water, making them even more vulnerable to the heat and lack of moisture.

Second, although large quantities of water are required, you must apply it carefully. Water applied in the form of large droplets or with great force will make the soil ‘crumbs’  break down and form a hard crust on the surface. This will prevent further water from entering the soil and also it will inhibit the free interchange of air and gases. On a seed bed, this crust will actually stop the young seedlings pushing through to the surface. To prevent this happening always apply water through a sprinkler with a fine head. When watering seed trays use a watering can fitted with a fine rose. Start pouring the water to one side of the tray or pot, then pass the watering can over the seedlings keeping the angle of the rose constant throughout. When you have finished, do not raise the can until you it is clear of the seed tray or pot.

The size of the droplets of water is not so important when you are watering grass, so lawn sprinklers are not generally made with much attention to the optimum droplet size. However, if you are going to be using your sprinkler on other parts of your garden, besides the lawn, then make sure you have a fine head to put on it. If you can only afford one head, chose a fine one.

It is not necessary to keep the soil moist all the time. Only water when the soil is dry but before the plants begin to suffer. Remember the surface of your soil may dry out long before the rest of it does. Provided you use a fine spray, you can water at any time of day. However, timing is important. Watering when fruits and vegetables are swelling will increase the overall weight. Once fruits, in particular, begin to colour you should not over-water. It could invite a fungal attack, particularly botrytis.

It is very easy to over-water especially plants in pots. Try to strike a balance between an aerated soil or compost and one with moisture. A cold, wet, airless soil will not do anything to encourage plant growth. If you are watering in the vegetable or flower garden, leave the sprinkler one for at least an hour each time.

When you have just planted a plant, water it immediately after planting, then leave it to its own devices for a while, almost allowing the soil to dry out before watering the plant again. This will encourage the plant to search for water, thus increasing its root system.

Watering is a bit of an art. Remember, in the garden water copiously, less often. Err on the side of dryness rather than giving to much water. Pot plants want to be damp but do not want to drown.


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