Like Scamp, our working cocker, plants like a good soak.

Scamp trough

We're often asked for advice about watering and, with the current heat wave, we thought we'd share some of what we've learned over the years.

  • when you do water, give the plant a decent soaking, this encourages the roots to grow deeper and helps make the plant less susceptible to drought. Go round and water and then check the soil back where you started - how far has the water penetrated?
  • water at the base of plant stems and keep the surrounding area dry, this saves water and helps discourage weeds.
  • a good soak every few days is more efficient than a daily sprinkle but you may need to increase the frequency to every other day if the weather is above the mid-twenties.
  • if you're not sure whether you should water, use a trowel to check how moist the soil is under the surface. If dry and crumbly on the surface but moist below, hold off watering as this, again, will encourage the roots to go deeper.
  • if you're using the No Dig method and have mulched the surface, you'll find that you don't need to water as often. Indeed, many vegetables will grow happily without watering (not the case on sandy soils). Just give them a few good waterings close to harvest time, starting about two weeks before harvest..
  • containers and pots will need regular watering - daily in the summer months.
  • if it's particularly hot, and you can move your containers, group them together to shade the containers and allow the plants to shade each other.
  • it's a myth that watering when it's sunny will scorch the plants. However, it's best to water first thing in the morning, before the soil has warmed up, to avoid unnecessary evaporation. Watering in the evening is the alternative.
  • hoe your beds rather than dig them over and so retain the moisture in the lower soil. Removing weeds stops them using up moisture reserves in the soil.
  • leave your lawn alone - if it's gone brown/yellow in dry weather it's just "shut down" to survive and will quickly green up again when the weather turns. Of course, you'll need to keep newly seeded or turfed areas watered until they become established. 
  • established trees and shrubs rarely need watering because their root systems are wide ranging but a thorough watering will improve growth if they're suffering from drought stress.
  • newly planted trees and shrubs (within the last five years) are more prone to drought stress and greater water needs.
  • newly sown or planted beds need to be a priority in your watering regime as they are very vulnerable to drought stress.
  • herbaceous perennials also need attention when the weather gets hot and will perform much better if you keep them watered.
  • think about mulching your beds and borders with at least 2" of material (water first so moisture is trapped in the soil) - this will reduce moisture loss very significantly.

Haws watering can

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