Top Watering Tips in the Summer for Colorado Gardeners
Summertime can take a toll on your Colorado garden. Lawns get stressed, plants can wilt, trees drop leaves too early. How can you stay on top of the watering needs of your Colorado landscape? Let’s have a look.
When you plan out your Colorado garden, consider using plants native to the area and those with lower water needs. Xeriscape options create beautiful, natural results! Your garden will be less thirsty and produce color and interest year-round.
Drip irrigation systems are also a good option for vegetable gardens, sloped gardens, and odd shaped or difficult to reach areas in your yard. No more over-reaching to hand water the back corner of your tomato patch! Because drip systems are efficient, in some cases they are exempt from watering restrictions during a drought. A well-designed drip irrigation system can be modified over time as plants grow or you change your vegetable plot layout.
Did you know you could train your trees, plants, and grass to use water more efficiently? By watering as deeply and infrequently as possible, you allow plants to establish roots, receive nourishment, and avoid water waste. Shallow watering forces roots to stay near the surface where it can be hot and dry!
One exception: for new plants in your garden, water thoroughly and check the moisture every day. All new plants, including drought-tolerant and xeric plants, need regular watering for the first couple of years to help those roots become established.
Early Morning Water
Water lawns in the early morning to avoid evaporation and minimize stress during a hot, summer day. Watering lawns in the middle of the day will waste money (and water) as the water evaporates quickly and the soil is too hard to absorb the moisture.
Keep an eye on the weather! If it’s cloudy or rains you may be able to skip watering entirely for that day.
Test the Soil in Your Flower Beds
To check if your flower beds are too dry, get a handful of soil and make it into a ball. Does it crumble immediately? It’s too dry and needs watering. When you push your finger into the soil ball, does it break apart? It’s probably just the right moisture. Is it muddy? It’s too wet.
Like lawns, water flower gardens early in the morning. You can also water them in the evening, as plants aren’t usually as susceptible to the fungus that can grow overnight. Let the water run through the house before you water, however. Hot water is not what your flowers are looking for! Commit to a year-round fertilizing program for your plants, too. Healthy plants can handle the heat better when they’re not compromised by lack of food.
Mulch the Moisture
To conserve moisture and avoid evaporation, add up to 3” inches of mulch around plants and in flower beds. Bark nuggets or shredded bark work to shade the soil and keep it cooler in the summer. Pea gravel as a mulch can also work, and add a decorative element, for xeric plants that require shading all the way up to the plant crown where the plant emerges from the ground.
For vegetable gardens, use pesticide-free grass clippings from the lawn or straw to keep the soil moist between watering. Tender vegetables, like lettuce, will retain their taste with a ground cover and these organic mulches can simply be turned back into the soil when the season is over.
Water is precious. Brush away grass clippings and dirt instead of using water to wash your driveway or sidewalk. Check outdoor sprinklers and hoses for leaks. Do the kids want to run around in the sprinkler? Set it up or turn it on in the zone where your lawn needs it most!
Consider buying a rain barrel and setting it up to collect rainwater off roofs. Rainwater is an excellent resource for watering plants! Don’t let it go down the gutter and into the drain – use if for your thirsty potted plants, flowers, and vegetables!