Prepare for summer watering

Make sure everything is in order for watering your summer garden. Start by checking to see if there are any restrictions in your area, as water supplies are very low in many places.

Here are some tips to help you conserve water in your garden:

  • Inspect hoses for holes, leaky joins and cracked fittings.
  • Run the irrigation system to see if there are any blockages, leaks or broken emitters.
  • Apply soil-wetting agents around existing plants in pots and garden beds. Available in liquid or dry forms, soil wetters can help plants survive by encouraging moisture to penetrate below the soil surface where it is available to the roots. These products act by breaking the surface tension of the soil, allowing water to soak in and move easily into the root area. They are particularly useful when the soil has already dried out or is naturally water-repellent. There are both organic and synthetic products available.
  • Use water-storing crystals. These super absorbers hold water near the roots and must be mixed into the soil in the root area before planting. It’s vital to pre-soak the crystals, as they take up many times their weight in water (always follow the recommended amounts on the label). After they have transformed into a jelly, mix them into the soil in the planting hole. Most are synthetic polymers, so it’s not recommended to use them for edible plants.
  • Add a layer of mulch over the soil. This is the best way to help your garden through the long, hot summer. Never spread mulch on top of dry soil – always soak the ground thoroughly first. Also, keep it away from direct contact with the plant to avoid moisture build-up on the stem, which can cause rot, and be careful not to apply the mulch layer so thickly that it will impede water penetration.

Look for more great tips and ideas for preparing for summer, including planting warm-season vegies and pruning flowering shrubs, in the November 2019 issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine.