CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It seems that summer weather is either feast or famine when it comes to rainfall. Sometimes, storms dump large amounts of water on the West Virginia hills, or summer heat and drought scorch the earth.
Both the overabundance and undersupply of water can have detrimental effects on the garden and landscape. The effects, though, can be mitigated with some good, water-wise gardening practices.
While plants thrive with ample water, too much of a good thing can be bad. Puddles or pools of water in your garden or landscape is a sign of poor soil drainage, which can lead to plant health issues, including root rot and killing of root hairs.
Root rots typically are fungal diseases that occur in an abundance of water. The roots die away, leaving the plant above to wither and perish. Water also displaces air in the soil, meaning that roots can suffer a lack of oxygen (yes, roots have to breathe) and result in death of root hairs or the total root. Without root hairs, plants will have a tough time taking up water and nutrients in the future and will fail to thrive.
Excess water can cause other issues. Walking in plowed fields or gardens, landscape beds or even on the lawn when the soil is wet can compact the soil. Packing of soil makes it difficult for roots to grow and water to penetrate and run through the soil. Compacted soil can be a major issue for gardens.
Working in the garden or landscape during wet times also can lead to the spread of diseases. Most of the fungal and bacterial diseases in the garden are spread by water, such as wind-splashed rain coming up from the soil onto the plant. Simply walking through the garden when leaves are wet can spread diseases quickly among many plants.
Here are tips to reduce the effects of excess water in the garden: