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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Over Watering is Top Plant Killer

Planter with plants More people kill their plants from over watering than under watering – even during summer heat waves. But as the temperatures decrease or we receive some much loved rainfall the danger of over watering increases, which invites disease, plant yellowing and even plant death.

Enormous numbers of people make the mistake of watering for short durations frequently during the week– as often as every day.  This habit can result in both over and/or under watering depending on the plant type.  For example, watering your grass every day for 5 or 10 minutes is actually over watering, even in the summer.  Whereas, watering a tree every day for 5 or 10 minutes is severely under watering the tree-or improperly watering for proper long-term growth.

Generally speaking, for every inch of water application there will be four inches of water penetration in the soil. This, of course varies. Water penetration is poor in highly clay soils, while water penetrates sandy soils rapidly draining and drying quickly.  Proper watering will moisten the entire root zone of the plant and dry slightly between waterings. This is desirable because plant roots will seek out water, extending only as far as the water penetrates into the soil.  Uprooted trees during monsoons are a common example of shallow watering; the roots stay towards the surface so there is nothing anchoring the tree against monsoon winds.

Watering frequencies in general will need to be decreased at this time. Shrubs and trees will need water once per week. Use the adjacent watering chart as a guide.  Note: these recommendations are for drip and T-Tape styles of irrigation systems at a rate of one gallon per hour.

 

Weather

Duration & Frequency of Watering

Vegetables & Flowers

Vines & Shrubs

Shrubs & Trees

4’-5’

Shrubs & Trees

5’-10’

Trees 10’-20’+

Container Plants

 

 

Lawns

Cool

Time

(Hours)

1-2

2

4

4

5

10 min

10-15 min

 

Days per Week

1-2

1

1

1

1

2-4

1-2

Warm

Time

(Hours)

2-3

3

5

5

8

20 min

10-15

min

 

Days per Week

2

1

1

1

1

7

1-2

Hot

Time

(Hours)

2-3

4

4-6

5-8

10-14

30 min

10-20 min

Days per Week

2

1

1

1

1

7

2-3

 

Troubleshooting problem areas can sometimes require professional advice.  But common symptoms like water run-off and standing water can be an easy fix.  Sloped areas commonly experience run-off due to hard soil.  In this case the solution is two-fold: apply water-soluble sulfur to soften the soil and use a stack watering method to avoid run-off until the acidifier is dissolved and the soil adjusted.  Stack watering is a method involving intermittent watering to achieve a deep soak. Usually the water is run in three- to five-minute intervals with a five- to 10-minute pause inbetween, the number of times this is repeated depends.  Lawns for example, using the chart above, need 10 to 15 total minutes of water, so with the stack watering method you would water for three minutes, pause 10 minutes and repeat three to five times to reach a maximum watering duration of 15 minutes total.

Standing water issues can be both an over-watering issue and a hard soil issue.  The solution is to acidify hard soil and following the above watering recommendations.  If you’re watering the proper amount of time and still have standing water, you likely have hard soil. A simple treatment with a soil acidifier will resolve the issue.

By Kari Treadway

 

 

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