by Charlene Burgi
Some faithful followers of our Think Blue Marin blog wonder what the Weekly Watering Schedule is and how it applies to those who hand water their plants or use other methods to keep their posies perky. The Weekly Watering Schedule works well for two of the three types of irrigation methods typically used by our readers.
Some gardens are irrigated by smart controllers that read the weather conditions, calculate the evapotranspiration (ET), and automatically adjust the runtimes to replace the amount of water lost naturally through ET. Folks with smart controllers can simply verify their controller’s output of water against the runtimes suggested in the Weekly Watering Schedule, which is calculated from our local weather station data.
Other readers might have irrigation controllers that require manual adjustments. Adjusting the controller weekly to replace the water lost through ET increases water efficiency and optimizes the health of plants by avoiding over or under watering. For these folks, the Weekly Watering Schedule can provide runtimes for the various types of irrigation systems in various climate zones in MMWD’s service area, taking the guesswork out of how much water is needed for the current week.
The Weekly Watering Schedule is not designed for the folks who water their gardens by hand or who use hose-end sprinklers. This type of irrigation requires a keen eye to the plant’s water needs. While studies show less water is used by these methods of irrigation, plants typically suffer due to shallow watering as the root systems remain close to the surface of the ground. If this is your modus operandi, you can improve the growing conditions of your garden using these methods:
- Create moats or berms around your plants to keep water within the root ball of the plant and allow for deeper water penetration.
- Fill each moat with water two to three times a week or as you see plants wilt. If plants are closely spaced, trench between the moats so they are connected by a waterway and very slowly allow the water to fill the trenches. Caution!!! Do not leave unattended water running. Also, this watering method will not work if you are in sandy or fast draining soil.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch! Apply three to four inches of mulch around each plant to prevent evaporation. Be certain to keep the mulch clear of the trunk of the plants to avoid future decay.