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Watering Tips

Newly situated plants need more frequent watering than established plants.

Watering the Garden (1912), a painting by Daniel Ridgway Knight.

It is always best to water deeply every few days than to sprinkle the ground around the plant every day.

When we water a little bit, very frequently, the plants expect it and develop a root zone close to the surface rather than establishing long roots that can tap into water sources deep down in the soil to sustain them in times of drought.

Clay soils have excellent water retention and often only one good watering per week is needed once plants have put down deep roots. However, sometimes when the surface of the soil is very dry for extended periods, or if a garden is on a slope, clay soil is more likely than other types to harden and cause water to run off and not soak in.

When you are planting this spring, make a well around the base of your woody plants with a hoe. When you water, fill this basin, and the water will slowly percolate into the soil. This is an important strategy to use with shrubs and trees.

You can also just let the hose trickle at the base of plants. The trickle must parallel absorption to avoid run-off. Soaker hoses are also excellent in times of drought.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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