Watering In Drought Conditions

So this is the next installment of Gardening in Drought Conditions.

I thought some additional information on watering might be helpful.  Let’s say its 75 degrees outside-go with me on this…we loose about an inch of water a week at that temperature, so we would need to give back an inch of water a week, either through rain or watering, to keep established plants pretty healthy.

So how do we know what an inch of water is? To monitor this put out a rain gauge. You can get a really fancy wireless gauge that has lots of buzzers and bells at Home Depot.  I use the caveman version, a cat food can.  The idea is to leave the receptacle out in an area that is getting rain or sprinkler water so you can measure how much is distributed over a period of time. Make sure the receptacle is in a place that gets an average distribution of water so it’s a good estimate of what is falling on the entire area.  If you are watering an area that has lots of plants put the receptacle on the ground under foliage to measure the water actually getting down to the ground and not just on the leaves.

We put out a traditional arcing sprinkler, the kind we used to run through when we were kids.  It arcs a full 180 degrees and we leave it on for an hour or so on the lawn.  We find that this gives us about a 1/4 inch of water.  This means we would need to water for 4 HOURS to replenish the water loss over the course of a week. (It’s ok to soak the ground once a week so the water penetrates deeply.)  Every yard and every hose is different so use this method to determine what works for your yard.

So that’s at 75 degrees, a lovely temperature.  If the temp goes up the water loss increases…for every 10 degree increase in temperature the water loss increases by 1/2″.  So at 95 degrees it’s 2″ of water that needs to be replenished. So we would leave our sprinkler on for 4 hours twice a week, pretty easy math.  This is doable in most areas so we can have healthy gardens even in this weather.

So in summary at 75 degrees replenish 1 inch of water a week, for just about everything. If you have non-native trees they need more like 2″ per week.  If the temp goes up 10 degrees the additional water needed is 1/2 inch.  Newly planted materials need more water more often so always check the roots and the soil to make sure it is moist.

Any questions let me know!


btw-next post will be plant ideas for drought conditions.

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