Extension Agent: Supplemental watering In the landscape

By Peter J. McGuill
July 22, 2014 at 2:22 a.m.

The rains that we received in the Victoria area earlier in the summer showed to be a welcome break from the drought that has plagued our area for the past few years. Although we remain well below average for the year in rainfall, the timely relief from the dry conditions has certainly improved the landscape.

As we approach August, however, we can expect conditions to change a bit. As the heat intensifies and the skies remain open to allow the sun to beat down, our landscape and lawns will be in for a great deal of punishment. In an effort to keep your landscape appealing and attractive, supplemental irrigation may be in order.

Supplemental irrigation is just that. Our goal should be to evaluate the current soil moisture conditions and the water needs of the plants, then provide enough water to the landscape to fill the gap. This feat is much easier to accomplish if you stay on top of the situation and prevent total moisture depletion from the topsoil. As this happens, the plants and grasses will suffer root damage or loss can occur - preventing adequate uptake of nutrients and water. Not to mention that it is almost impossible to catch up.

The time of day that you water and the type of watering device used to meet your irrigation demands is critical to proper watering and conservation of our precious water resources. The ideal time of day to water your landscape is during the early morning hours, before daytime temperatures heat up.

Daytime watering should be avoided because of the excessive amount of water that will be lost to evaporation. Watering of flower beds can best be accomplished with a drip system that meters water to the soil with gradual low pressure allowing the moisture to move down into the soil without running off.

Lawn sprinklers should be managed to apply enough water to reach a soil depth of 4 to 6 inches. This will encourage the grass to root more deeply, thus requiring less frequent watering. Frequent, shallow watering should be avoided as this discourages deep rooting and makes the plants and grasses more susceptible to the highly variable moisture conditions of the soil surface.

I encourage homeowners to evaluate their watering habits and audit sprinkler systems at least annually to ensure that they are delivering the proper amount of water to the right location. Water conservation should be a priority for each of us.

Doing our part to manage this precious resource while providing the water needs for our landscape is a win for the curb appeal of our home and a win for our children and grandchildren that are depending on us to meet their water needs.

Peter J. McGuill is the Victoria County extension agent - ag and natural resources. Contact him at 361-575-4581 or pjmcguill@ag.tamu.edu.



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