High temperatures and little rainfall have local gardeners and home-owners working overtime to make sure their gardens and lawns stay healthy.
But just how much water is needed to sustain the plants and grass?
Mark and Kim Bonastia of Signal Mountain Nursery offer the answers to five common questions on keeping vegetation alive and healthy during the dry days and soaring heat of Chattanooga-area summers.
1. Do you need to water more than once a day? On turf, no. Water less often and a longer amount of time. However, do not water so much that the water runs off. For landscapes, new plants (planted in the last year) need to be hand-watered in addition to an irrigation system. Plants in pots will need to be watered every day — sometimes twice a day when it is this hot.
2. How do you know the appropriate amount of water to use? Turf can take a lot of water over a week’s time; water three days a week at most. On landscapes, you can put a coffee can out when you are running a sprinkler and see when you get an inch. It is good to water landscapes three days a week.
Some plants need more water, like newly planted ones, but you want to hand-water these. To get an idea of how much you are putting down when hand-watering, take your hose and fill up a five-gallon bucket. See how long it takes to fill up the bucket, and that is how long you would want to stand there and water the new plant.
For potted plants, if you start to water and the water pours out right away, it is really dry. Think of it like a sponge. When you first get a new sponge wet, it takes a little while to get the water to soak in. Once it is soaked in, the sponge, or soil, starts taking up the water. You need to water potted plants every day. On Sept. 1, aerate and overseed. Do not wait until late September to do this. All cool-season fescue lawns can take this every year. It works wonders.
3. What time of day should you water? The general rule is to have everything perfectly dry by 9 a.m. This helps prevent disease and evaporation. Water as early in the morning as you can to have the irrigation stopped and everything dry by 9 a.m. This rule applies to all watering.
4. Should you water every day? Never on turf. Hanging baskets and garden pots, yes. If you have a vegetable garden and use a water sprinkler, water deep and less often.
5. Should you move potted plants out of the sun during days with high temperatures? Not necessarily. Instead, water more than once. Moving plants could help if it is going to be extremely hot. However, that can be a real chore, so watering is the best solution.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...