When Should I Water?

Inspect the soil at a spade’s depth. If the soil feels damp there is unlikely to be any need to water, but if it is dry, then watering is probably required for some plants.

Be aware that clay soils can feel damp even when all available water has been used and that sand soils can feel dry even if some water is available. The only way round this is to develop experience in matching the observed state of an individual soil to the growth rate of the plants. Generally speaking when the plants not getting enough water it will wilt and the leaves will turn dark and when its getting too much water it the leaves will go more yellow and you will get more leaves fall in a short space of time.

How much water to apply

  • Light sandy soils need watering more frequently than heavy soils, but less water can be applied at each watering.
  • Heavier, clay-based soils can be watered less frequently, but need heavier applications of water because they hold more water within their structure. Always test before watering, too little can cause problems and too much can do the same.
  • Try to water in the cool of the evening or the very early morning so that less water is lost immediately to evaporation.
  • Watering should never be carried out where drainage is poor, as adding water will do more harm than good, roots being very susceptible to airless conditions, particularly when the soil is warm in summer.

Ways of Watering

Leaky Pipe hoses: These hoses or pipes with holes in them deliver water accurately to established plants and plants in rows. They can be hidden beneath soil or mulch, which also avoids evaporation losses. They work best on heavy soil where the water spreads further sideways as it sinks than on lighter soils. All we need is a tap that can be hooked up to the system not too far away from the area to be irrigated.

Rain Root Pipes: These are perforated irrigation pipes wrapped around the root ball of the tree to with a pipe coming up to the surface of the ground with an inlet. This allows you to water directly to the root ball, reducing evaporation from the soil in hotter conditions and will not disturb your mulch around the base of the tree.

Automated irrigation systems: To save time and labour an automated timer can be installed. This is good for times where you cannot water yourself, if you are on holiday or during hot summer periods where it is best to water in the evening at a cooler time. They are relatively inexpensive and can be a useful tool on those occasions, but we always recommend watering yourself to test the ground and check the weather conditions.

Tips for economical watering

Established trees and shrubs do not generally need watering, as they have such wide-ranging roots that they are drought-proof. But their growth may be improved by watering when they are under drought-stress.