Maintaining the amount of water you give your garden is not always as easy as turning on a hose.
Over-watering, under-watering and irregular watering schedules can leave your garden struggling for some structure. Besides a regular watering schedule, it's also important to think of the impact your water use is having on your community, as well as the environment as a whole.
Creating and maintaining a good watering plan can save you money, make your plants grow better and make less of an impact on the world around you.
The best place to start is with a simple checklist.
10 watering tips for better plants
1. Water weekly and then every other day as the summer gets hotter. There is no need to water every day. Place soaker hoses through your garden rows so watering isn't such a hassle. The structure also gives your plants time to uptake the moisture into their system on a regular schedule.
*Note: For container gardens, however, sometimes daily watering is necessary.
2. Water slowly and deeply. Most plants need to be watered six to ten inches below the ground's surface to really feel the effects, and this just isn't possible with spontaneous watering or a squirt with a hose. Having soaker hoses will make this easier as well. You'll be able to turn on your water and let it flow nice and slow down the roots while you work somewhere else in the garden, or put your feet up while admiring your plants.
3. Use mulch! Mulching will help hold the moisture you disperse into the soil. On hotter days, this is especially helpful to not have the soil directly exposed where the moisture can evaporate. For flowerbeds, cedar, pine or sawdust can be used. In the garden, wheat straw works great to place between rows and around the plants themselves to keep in much needed moisture. This will also cut back on any unwanted weed growth.
4. Water your garden early in the day, if possible. This is especially important in the heat of summer when plants should be well hydrated before the scorching sun gets too high in the sky.
5. Although some early afternoon watering is OK, avoid watering too late in the evening. Water won't evaporate as easily off the plants and leave them more susceptible to disease.
6. When planting, organize your garden upon water need. Some plants need more water than others, so having your garden designed to accommodate your plants for need is better in the long run. You'll avoid under watering some and over watering others.
7. Give your garden the "finger test." Push your finger down into the soil around your plants. If it's moist at your second knuckle, you can lay off watering. If it's dry, then it's time to give your thirsty garden a drink.
8. To help keep your plants clear of disease, make sure to water at the roots, not on the leaves. Adding a soaker hose to your garden-watering scheme will also help you steer clear of disease.
9. Watering at the roots and avoiding water on leaves will also keep your plants from getting sunburned. Yes, plants can get burned, too! The heat of the sun can literally burn your leaves when the water droplets begin to evaporate in the midday sun.
10. To save on your water bill, use a water collection system, like a rain barrel. You can easily place buckets around the eaves of your house to collect water, but to avoid mosquitoes, you can build or buy a rain barrel that attaches to your gutter. You'll be able to collect water all season for use on your plants.
Twinkle VanWinkle has more than 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks. She baked apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and has appeared on Food Network's "The Best Of..." Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, urban gardener, chef, musician and social media fanatic.