With water, just enough is just right

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, August 26, 2010

Water can be the lifeblood or death sentence for your lawn and garden, depending on how you use it.

With the intense heat and little rain the area has experienced this summer, garden experts have seen a lot of both happening.

“People panic and overwater, or they give up and let it go,” Virginia Cooperative Extension horticulture agent Cyndi Wyskiewicz said.

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Because the symptoms of overwatering and underwatering are similar, it’s important to make sure you’re doing it right before its too late.

“When you underwater your plants, you can give them water and they’ll come back up,” Wyskiewicz said. “If they’re overwatered, though, the roots are rotting but all you’ll see is their leaves wilting like they’re being underwatered. At that point, though, there’s not much you can do to save them.”

Between hand-watering and natural rainfall, plants and lawns should get only an inch of water a week.

To ensure your plants aren’t dealing with either extreme, Wyskiewicz recommends getting a rain gauge.

“As long as they’re getting an inch, don’t over-compensate,” Wyskiewicz said.

A key to keeping your garden and lawn as green as possible is not only making sure it doesn’t get too much or too little water, but the right kind of water.

“A lot of people assume running a sprinkler several times a day is good for their lawn, but it’s not,” Wyskiewicz said. “That’s shallow watering. They need long, deep water, not short bursts. It encourages the root system to go down deeper, where it can get more water by itself. The deeper the roots, the stronger it is.”