• Martin Ford

How Much Water is Enough?

A follow-on thought from a previous Blog about how to ensure our plants’ roots are getting enough water, is to place a jar in the garden to collect a sample of rain water that has entered the soil - inconsistently timed as it may be at this time of year. As long as the jar has vertical sides with an opening at the top then the water level shown at the bottom, after a rainfall, will give a visual measure. If you then scrape a small patch of soil to one side, taking off just the surface, bit by bit until you find dry soil, this will show how much rain is needed to get down to the roots of trees and shrubs so that they do not struggle to find water or compete with the shallow roots of lawns. Also, look under any existing mulch and you will see that it too will have absorbed rain and so reduced the amount which reaches the soil. Mulch is important in cooling the soil, especially for newly planted trees, and for aesthetics, but by watering as described in a previous Blog we can ensure that water reaches where the roots are. Rainfall can often be insufficient to accomplish that - especially if it comes fast and furious as in a thunder storm. By visually seeing how much rain has fallen and then seeing the effect on the soil we can recognize how to care for our trees and plants all through the long summers - an essential skill.

Photo credit Missouri Botanical Garden

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