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How to improve your water management: The 4 biggest watering myths

Magazine

When the heat of the summer arrives, good water management is crucial to ensuring that not a drop is wasted. To save you from suffering from information overload and to help you tell fact from fiction, here are four of the biggest watering myths.

Watering your plants can seem like such a straightforward task that many gardeners, whether new or experienced, take it for granted. No matter how ordinary a job irrigation may seem, when the sun begins to make more frequent appearances and the temperatures rise, the technique used can truly make or break a garden.

For example, did you know that over-watering can be just as devastating as under-watering, causing such an overwhelming impact to your garden that it can put your treasured plants in peril? Water management is more complicated than you may imagine; to enable you to navigate the minefield of misinformation, we’ve taken the biggest watering myths to task. 

Water management – fact or fiction?


1. Overhead watering on a sunny day will scorch leaves

While it’s a good idea to avoid watering your garden on a sunny day, this is not because it will cause your plants to have scorched leaves. This is one piece of watering wisdom that you can file firmly under ‘myth’. If it were true, all plants would be sizzled every time there was a summer shower.  Instead, any water still on the leaves when the rain stops will quickly evaporate, causing zero damage. Good water management is the real reason not to irrigate on sunny days, as watering on less sunny days will minimise the amount of moisture lost to evaporation.

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2. It rained yesterday, so there’s no need to water today

Yes and no: the answer really depends on how much it rained yesterday. A full day of rain the day before usually means there is no need to water today.  However, light rain will do little to properly saturate your soil and even a moderate shower, after a dry spell, might not be enough to fully penetrate a plant’s root ball (the mass of roots that forms below the ground). In this case, the best course of action from a water management perspective would be to use a drip line like GARDENA'S Micro Drip-System,  which moistens the soil gently and evenly to prevent too much water from evaporating, seeping or flowing away.

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3. You can’t overwater a plant

Another myth: you can kill a plant by overwatering it. Irrigating with too much water can cause root rot that, once it sets in, is almost impossible to cure and will result in the death of your plant.  A simple way to prevent this is to ask what its watering requirements are when you buy it, or otherwise, research them online. Whatever you do, don’t just stick to the ‘inch-a-week’ rule. The amount of water a plant needs depends on a number of factors, including its stage of growth, the type of soil it’s in, the weather and the time of year. For optimal water management, the best way to water most plants is to apply enough water to moisten their entire root system, then allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again.

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4. Drought resistant plants don’t need watering

If you’ve chosen drought resistant plants for low maintenance purposes, you have to remember that ‘low-water’ doesn’t mean ‘no-water’. When you transfer a pot or container-grown plant to a flowerbed, its roots will still be confined to the shape of that vessel. During the plant’s first growing season, it will need to be watered regularly until its roots grow out far enough to reach into the flowerbed’s soil. Once established though, it may need supplemental water only during extended dry spells. Also, don’t forget that even though a plant may be labelled ‘drought-resistant’, it doesn’t mean it won’t grow better with a steady supply of moisture.

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The lesson to take away is that when it comes to proper water management, it isn’t good enough to operate on hearsay and conjecture. If you’re not sure about something, be sure to ask an expert or look up the information from a reliable source.