Despite NW rain, we still need to water

By Steve Smith

There is a certain fact that Northwest gardeners are going to have to start embracing: our summers are getting longer and drier and our plants are only going to get more and more moisture stressed.

It is up to us to help our landscapes get through the summer months, so here are the basics of proper watering. It could mean the difference between life and death for your plants. Most gardeners water too often and not deep enough. Stick your finger into the soil 2 inches down and see if there is moisture. If there is then don’t water yet; wait a few days. Most of us are trying to garden on 2 to 4 inches of topsoil. You can thank your city/county building departments for leaving you in this untenable situation. If they would only just require the builder to leave us with 12 to 18 inches of wonderful topsoil, they would solve their stormwater runoff problems and make every gardener happy. Appropriate sprinklers are as follows:

1. Soaker hoses typically ooze or sweat. These are perfect for shrub borders and permanent plantings. Turn them on when you go to work and turn them off that evening or even a couple days later. 2. Oscillating or impact sprinklers. You can pay from $15 to $80 for an oscillating sprinkler. They are perfect for square or rectangular spaces and apply water fairly uniformly. Impact sprinklers, like the good old Rainbird styles, are more adjustable for odd configurations. Both types work well for large areas and can usually run for 20 to 40 minutes before you have to move them.

3. For spot watering, my all-time favorite is a Gilmour Fan Sprinkler. For hand watering pots, it is hard to beat all the sprinklers that Dramm manufactures. With their wands and hand-held nozzles you can do anything from lightly misting the foliage of a delicate fern to blasting off the bug remains on the windshield of your car. With all the designer colors they come in it can actually be fun to do these chores.

4. Automatic sprinkler systems are nice, and I made a living installing them in California, but you still have to monitor things to make sure water is being applied uniformly. And please don’t run them every day.

Adding compost – this is an essential step in retaining moisture in soil. Applying a 1 to 2 inch layer of mulch to the soil, under your shrubs and trees and around the perennials, will reduce the frequency with which you need to water by as much as 50%. That is a very good investment.

Established shrubs and trees need only watering once or twice a month, perennials, annuals and lawns only one to three times a week and containers only every day or every other day depending on how root bound they are. Water deeply and infrequently using an appropriate sprinkler and always count your blessings that we live in a civilized society where we have the option to water at all.

Also, Sunnyside will be hosting two free classes – ‘Herb-o-rama’ June 29 at 10 a.m. and ‘Carnivorous Plants & Bog Gardening 101’ June 30 at 11 a.m.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net

More in Business

More new goodies to be looking for in 2020

By Steve Smith Back in September, I introduced you to several new… Continue reading

A hardy fall container.
Garden list of things to do this month

By Steve Smith Here’s an all-in-one-place list of chores for the month.… Continue reading

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, but do it anyway to have flowers during winter

By Steve Smith As the temperature drops, along with all the leaves… Continue reading

Planting bulbs now can bring you beautiful flowers like tulips and daffodils later on. (Courtesy Photo)
Bulbs: Mother Nature’s little anti-depressants

By Steve Smith The dark season is upon us, and it seems… Continue reading

You can have a fun bud-blooming time this winter

By Steve Smith First off, I suspect you would like an explanation… Continue reading

From left, Fahlman, Nehring, Pierce and Craven
Business Summit talks about future of Cascade Industrial Center

MARYSVILLE – If you want the Cascade Industrial Center to be a… Continue reading

Globe 3rd in state for general excellence

MARYSVILLE – The Marysville Globe placed third in the largest circulation category… Continue reading

A geranium. (Courtesy Photo)
Don’t let begonias be bygones; save them until spring

By Steve Smith With the mercury dipping into the low 30s I… Continue reading

Mums in fall. (Courtesy Photos)
Out with the old, in with the new in colorful October

By Steve Smith Of all the seasons fall is my favorite and… Continue reading

Grand opening for newly expanded Arlington casino set for Oct. 24

ARLINGTON – Angel Of The Winds Casino Resort will celebrate the grand… Continue reading

The many faces of Viburnum can beautify your garden in fall

By Steve Smith We have a vast palette of plants to choose… Continue reading

Courtesy Photo 
                                ‘Winter Splash’ is something new to look for in 2020.
Looking ahead to early 2020 arrivals

By Steve Smith Back in March I introduced you to several new… Continue reading