CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I can't believe I'm thinking about watering anything, after the wet spring we've had in our area.
But watering your lawn and garden makes up about 50 percent of your water usage during the summer, and all that hard work in the yard adds up to more than just good looks. Studies show landscaping can add 7 percent to 14 percent to a home's value.
At our house, we don't water the lawn. Percentage-wise, it's probably more weeds than grass, but it's green and it's tough. Dogs, kids and bocce balls don't damage it. Many of our flowerbeds are mature and don't require water. There are a few, however, that are relatively new or picky, and those are on the chores list for regular watering.
So I've divided the watering tips into three categories: lawn, landscape and both. I can't vouch for these guidelines, but consumer-ratings company Angie's List consulted landscaping experts nationwide to get the scoop. I'll swear by the others.
- Water wisely. Here's a simple tip to help you figure out how much to water your lawn: Put a small can (like a tuna or cat food can) under your sprinkler in the yard. See how long it takes to fill that can up. That's how long you need to sprinkle your lawn.
- Water in the morning. The sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Watering during the day is less efficient because of water loss due to evaporation. Watering in the evening can leave plants wet overnight, which could lead to fungus or plant disease.
- According to David Daehnke, who can be heard on Martha Stewart's Sirius radio program, the key to watering is to make sure the lawn receives one inch of water per week, including rainfall. It is that simple. When watering, do not water after 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Any moisture after this time can sit overnight and become a host for disease. Make sure the lawn dries out thoroughly before nightfall comes.
- Protect your plants. Mulch is probably the surest way to ensure the health of all your plants during the heat of summer because it traps moisture and helps keep soil cool. If you applied mulch a few months ago, fluff it.
- Use soaker hoses instead of sprinkler-type watering systems. They're better for the plants, and they use less water.
- Change your landscaping. Avoid the issue of keeping your lawn green in a drought by landscaping your yard with native grasses and plants that require less water. While establishing any new landscape requires more water in the first year or so, a water-wise landscape will require about 20 percent to 50 percent less water from start to maturity.
- Plan ahead while away. Vacation time can be deadly for your plants if you don't have a reliable neighbor to help keep your container plants healthy. One solution is to pull back the mulch in a shady garden spot. Place potted plants on bare ground in a tight grouping and then tuck the mulch around the base of each pot. Soak the plants and the surrounding soil, and they should be fine for up to a week.
Lawn and landscape
- Don't fertilize when it's hot. Fertilizer can burn your lawn or your plants if it sits too long without thorough soakings.
- Maintain equipment. Check your irrigation system or sprinklers to make sure everything is working properly. Repair or replace broken or damaged nozzles or heads. Making simple fixes can save 10 percent on a water bill. Make sure sprinkler heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways.
- Pest control: Remove stagnant water to avoid mosquito problems. Look specifically at flowerpots, gutters and birdbaths.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.