Sometimes the drought takes its toll on all of us. In many parts of the country there is a shortage of rain, all crops are disappearing and yields are twice as low as in previous years. The effects of drought are visible not only in agricultural crops, but also in our home gardens. Plants dry before the eyes, lose their color, fade faster, or their leaves begin to discolor, as if it was autumn. Each copy, unfortunately, experiences the negative effects of drought. Therefore, in this article, I want to advise you on how to prepare your garden for drought, and how to deal with it now.
How to water plants?
In order not to harm the plants when we plan to water them, we must follow a few rules. We only water when it is really necessary. This watering should be plentiful, but not very frequent. We water it once and well. So, for example, once a week, but very abundantly. This is due to the fact that plants can get used to regular access to water – when we water them too often, every day, and once we don’t, they will feel it immediately. When the frequency is reduced, they will become more resistant to long-term drought. Additionally, the root system at the time of regular watering will not be too deep, because when it does not have to develop while looking for water, it will stop growing.
Another rule of thumb is to water at the right time of the day. First of all, the time of watering should be carefully selected – it must be either early morning or late evening, when the air temperature has already dropped. Watering with cool water in the heat can harm the plant, so we should wait until the evening. Water used for watering should be left standing – rainwater or well water works well here. However, we must first lower it into buckets or watering cans so that the temperature is not too low and not to cause a thermal shock.
When watering plants, remember not to pour water over the leaves – it can cause burns or disease. We pour the water as close to the ground as possible. If we water with water from a garden hose, try not to direct the water stream directly at the root ball, because the strong water pressure rinses the substrate from the root ball and damages the root hairs. Then we water it with mild pressure, or direct the stream of water further.
When watering plants, you should always exercise moderation – use this treatment at times of utmost necessity, only when we notice the negative effects of water deficiency. To facilitate watering, we can install several systems in the garden that will store water and help distribute it.
Garden irrigation system
The irrigation system in your garden is a great convenience, but we must be aware that the need to water the garden in times of drought is high, so costs can be high. For the purposes of the irrigation system, it may be necessary to make an additional water intake – in the form of a water intake or digging a deep well.
The irrigation system can be divided into two main types – depending on what plants we need to water. The first is a sprinkler system, which we install most often where the lawn grows. The system is dug to a depth of about 11 inches, and then sprinklers extend out of the basin in point, which will either rotate or be fixed. The sprinklers emerge from a patch of grass and sprinkle a specific surface.
A drip line will work better in flower beds with trees, shrubs or perennials. It is a garden hose, holes through which water condenses within the roots and plants. The drip system usually does not require installation into the ground. It can be laid on the litter and masked with it. To stabilize it, we use metal clamps. In order to clarify the supply of water to the roots, we can use drippers – these are plastic pins, fixed deep into the ground, through which water condenses.
The irrigation system will certainly facilitate garden care, especially in summer. It is worth thinking about it when setting up a garden, but it is not a necessity, because the installation of the irrigation system can be done by yourself, it is not very invasive or difficult. The irrigation system can be autonomous and completely free of our intervention. By equipping it with a controller, we will be able to program the exact time of its activation. It is also possible to purchase an irrigation system which, by analyzing weather conditions – temperature, rainfall, air and soil humidity, will turn itself on if necessary. Thanks to this, having an irrigation system, we can leave without fear or simply forget about watering the garden.
How does litter help in times of drought?
Mulching in the garden is a very positive and friendly procedure that fulfills several functions. Mulching is the lining of the bed with stone or plant material, under which there is often an agrotextile.
At this point, it is worth considering whether the agrotextile is necessary, useful, does it fulfill its functions and what are they? Opinions vary. The non-woven fabric is designed to stop the growth of weeds, we arrange it, spreading bark on top of it. The bark begins to decompose after a year, creating perfect caries. Unfortunately, it cannot get into the soil through the fabric, it is on top of it. The wind brings soil and weed seeds here, which have excellent conditions for development on the fertile humus. It is more difficult to remove them, because the flexible, young root easily grows over the agrotextile, so we only get rid of the above-ground part. It stays roots and grows back. Over and over again.
It is also worth knowing that this material often hinders the growth of flowers and perennial plants. Runners, seeds and shoots have no place to grow. Therefore, in places where we plant perennial beds or cover plants, it can cause damage. In the case of trees and shrubs, this is not such a negative impact, and when we cover the agrotextile with gravel, we can obtain the desired effect, but it is worth considering the use of non-woven material. A thick layer of gravel laid without material lining will also hinder the growth of weeds, and will not cut off the soil from us – any care treatments, weed removal or freedom in space arrangement will remain. Stones laid in a thick layer will also not be contaminated or fall into the soil.
Coming back to the topic of bedding – why does it help us in hot weather? First of all, litter retains moisture – it prevents evaporation, it is also a barrier to the scorching sun. Soil temperature is slightly lower, so water does not heat up so quickly and evaporates. In addition, bark or other plant materials – such as grass, wood clippings, shavings, cones also store water, which they can give back during drought. So it is worth mulching beds, stones or gravel, or even cut grass protects the soil surface from sun.
Other amenities during hot weather
Plants planted in spring are particularly sensitive to heat, their root system is not yet well developed, trees and shrubs need time to adapt. Therefore, in times of drought, we can observe the suction of freshly planted plants, the loss of leaves, flowers and shoots. How to deal with it?
First, we can make shading screens – a great way for plants growing in the sun. It is enough to create something in the form of a screen on a wooden frame and place it in such a way that it creates a shadow. It can be an agrotextile, a bamboo mat, stretched on two wooden pegs, or even a garden umbrella. Plants, especially those sensitive to heat, will appreciate this piece of shade and will certainly endure scorching sun better.
To facilitate the storage of water in the soil, use a hydrogel when planting the plant. A hydrogel is an artificial substance, most often in the form of a powder or granules for the preparation of a suspension. The hydrogel is mixed with the substrate while planting the plant. This substance, in contact with water, increases its volume many times, they store the water which it releases during drought. It is estimated that the hydrogel can store up to 80% of rainwater. He is able to keep it at a level that is available to plants. A hydrogel can also retain many elements – such as, for example, magnesium. We can successfully use it on light and permeable soils, it is not recommended for clay and heavy soils. A hydrogel substrate can be used in pots, and even when sowing the lawn. Hydrogel is also often sold with fertilizers or other mixtures of substrates, which additionally positively affect the development and growth of plants.
For plants planted in balcony boxes, there are also hydro boxes, special pockets filled with gel. Before placing them in the pot, they must be well watered, preferably immersed in water and then placed on the bottom of the pot. By increasing and reducing its volume, the hydrogel contributes to the improvement of the soil structure, loosens it and improves the lumpy properties.
Plants in flower pots or balcony boxes belong to the particularly sensitive group. The limited area and boundaries that inhibit root growth make plants rely on us and our care. Therefore, constant access to water is particularly important here. An excellent idea for the care of plants in pots is to plant them in pots with an irrigation system. The irrigation system is a great idea for hot days, but it will also be helpful for forgetful people or people who travel frequently. The irrigation system in the pots ensures that the plants have constant access to water in the bottom of the pot. Such a pot consists of two elements – a casing and an insert, between which there is a space. This space is where water is collected and the plant has access to it. The water in the tank lasts for a long time – often much longer than in a traditional pot. Depending on the species, watering can be reduced to even one every few weeks. Constant access to water causes healthy development of plants, their rapid growth, and makes it easier for us to care for, which is especially important when it is hot, and we have more plants, and we do not want to spend half a day running with a watering can from one pot to another.
To support our plants in times of drought, we can apply potassium fertilizer. Potassium promotes root development, which contributes to more efficient water uptake from the soil. Therefore, it is important to supply plants with fertilizers containing this element. Additionally, a well-developed root system will support wintering of plants and protect them against freezing in the root zone.