Get your garden wetter, better

In the simplest of terms, plants need soil, sun and water to grow, but in the drier months and in areas that don't get much rainfall, keeping your plants properly hydrated can be difficult. If Mother Nature isn't lending much of a helping hand, you may need to develop your own irrigation system to properly water your lawn, trees and gardens.

Just a Little Sprinkle

The most wallet-friendly option for irrigation is the classic sprinkler attached to a garden hose. The following types of sprinklers are the most common choices for above-ground installation:

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  • Oscillating sprinklers shoot multiple streams of water into the air in a fan shape. The watering arm oscillates to direct the fan of water forwards and backwards.
  • Impulse sprinklers emit quick bursts of water at high pressure in a rotating pattern, often covering a longer distance than oscillating sprinklers. Impulse sprinklers can be adjusted to cover wide and narrow areas.
  • Soaker hoses are a third option for irrigation and are simply garden hoses with perforations along the length of the hose to allow water to spray out of the hose and soak the surrounding ground.

If you want to irrigate a larger area with less effort, a built-in irrigation system may be the best choice. Using a series of interconnected pipes and sprinkler heads, in-ground systems use water pressure to pop up sunken sprinkler heads that spray the surrounding areas. In-ground systems can be manually controlled or set to turn on at certain times of the day. More advanced systems let you control which sprinkler heads turn on at different times.

Watering Tips

In dryer areas, it's common for local government to set watering bylaws to avoid water shortages. Whether you're faced with watering bylaws or not, these watering tips will help ensure healthy, well-irrigated plants:

  • A thorough soaking once a week is better for plants than daily light waterings. The deeper the moisture penetrates, the deeper the plants roots will burrow. Deep roots are better at withstanding drought than shallow roots that can dry out quickly.
  • Loose, sandy soil doesn't retain water as well as clay or loam soil does. Sandy soil may need to be watered more frequently.
  • Water early in the morning when the moisture evaporates slower. Late afternoon waterings are fine as well, but make sure your lawn and the leaves on your plants will have enough time to dry before nightfall. Watering too late at night can cause plants to mold.
  • Give your lawn and plants time to absorb the water. If water is running off or puddling, stop watering, wait for the water to absorb, then resume.
  • Lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. Dig two to six inches into the soil. If it's dry and crumbling, it needs to be watered.

Irrigation is crucial to a healthy lawn and flourishing plants. Invest in an irrigation system that suits your needs and budget and get to know how often your soil needs watering.

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