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Ottawa, ON
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PROPER WATERING TECHNIQUES

A landscape is a wonderful investment that provides numerous rewards.  Like any investment however, a landscape must be taken care of to ensure its return. Making sure that you are using proper watering techniques is an essential place to start.

 Plants that do not receive enough water can become stressed, thereby compromising their health and therefore their appearance. On the flip side, too much water can make plants susceptible to rot and disease, which will also affect their aesthetics and health.

The amount of water and frequency of watering will depend on what type of plant you have as well as many other variables, all of which should be considered.

 

 Lawns. Whether you have an existing lawn or brand new sod, watering properly is extremely important.  New sod should not be allowed to dry out while it is getting established.  Make sure that newly installed sod gets at least an inch of water a day for the first ten days.  This new lawn will require more frequent waterings than an established lawn for the at least the first year.

To keep an established lawn healthy, 1-2 inches of water per application once a week is recommended to ensure that enough moisture is provided to the root system.  Regular waterings will help to prevent your lawn from going dormant which can weaken the root system.  Note as well, if your lawn is receiving frequent shallow waterings, your lawn is apt to develop a shallow root system which will also jeopardize its health.  The key to a healthy looking lawn is to have a healthy root system.  Be careful not to water too much also as excessive watering can leave your lawn susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases. 

Shrubs and perennials.  As with your lawn, special care must be taken with new shrubs and perennials.  For the first month and a half after your new plants have been installed, monitor the soil on a daily basis to ensure that the first 6-12” is kept evenly moist.  After that time, once the plants have had a chance to get established, you can check the soil every 2-3 days.  Be sure when you are watering to administer at least an inch of water, because as with your lawn, your plants can also develop a shallow root system.Take into consideration the type of plants you have as well.  For instance, Astilbes are a moisture loving perennial that benefit from more water  than many other plants do.

Trees.  For the most part, established trees will not need to be watered unless there has been a significant period of drought.  Newly planted trees will require regular waterings until they become established however.  Long slow waterings will help to make sure that enough water is able to get to its root system.  You may need to do this during dry periods for the first couple of years.

Monitor moisture levels.  The previous recommendations are great guidelines for watering your lawn and plants, but there are many different variables that can affect moisture levels, some of which include precipitation, temperatures, wind, and time of the year, sun exposure, and soil type.  Checking the moisture level of the soil by hand is one of the best things you can do to help ensure that the proper amount of water is provided to your landscape.  A hard fast rain may look like it is giving your garden a good watering, but the reality is that the majority of it will probably run off and end up in the sewers instead of getting absorbed into the soil. As well, soils that contain higher clay content or that contain lots of organic matter will retain moisture for a longer period of time than sandier soils.

Monitoring your moisture levels on a regular basis will take the guess work out of how much water your plants will need.  Irrigation systems are very helpful and will save you time and effort, but physically monitoring the moisture levels is still important so that necessary adjustments to your system regarding amounts and frequency can be made accordingly. 

Keeping your landscape hydrated with the use of proper watering techniques does not need to be complicated, but it is vitally important to the health of your plants.  A healthy landscape is not only more beautiful to behold but it is also easier to take of, so that you can spend more of your time enjoying your yard as opposed to working in it.

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