With summer temperatures soaring into the 90’s and precipitation becoming infrequent and unpredictable, it can become very difficult to maintain sufficient moisture levels in your garden. And with insufficient moisture comes stressed and unhappy plants that are less likely to produce a healthy crop. With all of the effort that so many people put into their gardens, this is a frustrating and disheartening problem to run into. That is why we are here with a few tips that will help your soil retain moisture and keep your garden from drying out during the hottest months of the year!
This may seem obvious, but the way you water your garden has a big impact on how much moisture soaks in and how much evaporates under the sun. Watering for short periods of time, even if you do so frequently, is not very effective, as the water will only soak into the top layer of soil. Any moisture in the top layers of soil easily gets evaporated by the sun. Watering for a longer period of time, however, makes sure that the water soaks deep into the ground where it will be safe from the heat of the sun. Water in the top layers of soil will still evaporate, but a deep watering makes sure that as much water as possible gets deep enough into the soil for your plants to be able to soak it up instead of it being evaporated by the sun.
Use Drip Irrigation Lines
If you can, try using a drip irrigation system! Standard sprinkler systems spray water into the air, and not all of the water that comes out of the sprinkler head makes it to your plants. In our hot and dry climate, water molecules floating through the air can easily evaporate before they even reach the ground. Even water that lands on the foliage of your plants is not being soaked up by the roots of the plant and will evaporate in the sun. Water on foliage can also cause burn spots on leaves or even make your plants more susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew. In contrast to this, using a drip line to water your garden vegetables and fruits keeps the water off the foliage of your plants and makes sure that the water comes into direct contact with the soil, increasing the amount of water that is accessible to the roots of your plants and decreasing the amount that evaporates before it even touches the ground.
Water at the Right Times
As mentioned above, molecules of water can easily evaporate before even reaching the ground. Watering at the right times of the day can help with this greatly. Watering at night or during the coolest parts of the day will help lessen the evaporation of water as it travels through the air and after it hits the ground.
Keep Up on Weeding
This aspect of gardening is probably everyone’s least favorite, but it definitely makes a big difference in terms of water retention and the health of the rest of the plants in your garden. While pesky weeds may not look like they are having too big of an effect on your garden, these plants need water just like all the rest. By allowing weeds to grow in your garden, you allow them to soak up the limited amount of water that is available to your desirable plants. These weeds also soak up much needed nutrients in the soil as well, further depriving your plants of the necessities for strong and healthy growth and food production. So, don’t get behind on your weeding! It will make a bigger difference than you realize.
Put Down a Layer of Mulch or Grass Clippings
Putting down a layer of mulch or grass clippings from your yard can do wonders for helping your soil retain moisture. This extra layer on top of your soil will allow water to reach the ground while also protecting and shielding it from the heat of the sun. The grass and mulch will also retain some water themselves, helping keep moisture in and around your soil instead of letting in escape and evaporate into the air. Putting a layer of mulch or grass clippings down in your garden can also help deter weeds, and even when they do grow, they are much easier to pull from moist soil than they are from dried out, rock solid soil. When adding a layer of mulch or grass clippings to your garden bed, make sure to leave several inches of soil bare around the base of your plants. Putting these materials all the way up at the base of the plant can lead to mold or rot forming at the base of the plant, and can also encourage unwanted insects to congregate there. Leaving a ring around the base of your plant ensures that the base of the plant is protected from pests and disease, while ensuring that the soil around the plant is insulated from the sun so the roots can soak up as much moisture as possible.
Amend Your Soil
Amending your soil is important for more than just water retention, and there are many different things you can amend your soil with. Adding organic matter such as composted food scraps, wood chips, peat moss and the like will help your soil absorb and retain more water, while also introducing nutrients that are necessary for your plants grow strong and healthy.
Let Us Know Your Questions!
Gardening can be tricky, and there are so many little tips, tricks and hacks out there that it is hard to remember them all! If you are still struggling with your garden, or have any other related questions, please let us know! We are always happy to help!