What's the best way to water my outdoor potted plants?

Most plants want moist (but not soggy) soil around their roots all the time. In the spring, too frequent and too shallow watering makes roots rise to the top of the soil for moisture; this discourages deep root growth and leads to survival problems during hot summer months.

Deep-watered plants will have long, deep-seated roots that will find moisture beneath the surface when the sun has baked the ground.

In summer, apply water when the temperature is moderate and when the wind is calm - not in hot sunshine or strong wind that will immediately evaporate the water and leave the soil harder than if it had never been watered.

Use a watering wand or can and apply water directly to the soil to get water to the roots where it's needed, and keeping water off the stems and leaves will keep the plants from burning if the sun is too bright.

The rate of penetration into the soil is very important. Water should be applied no faster than the soil surface is able to absorb it. This is determined by the rate of application, hose size, length of hose, water pressure, the water head and the type of soil. Sand has coarse particles and will absorb water faster. Clay particles are much finer and absorb water at a slower rate. As a general rule, the faster the soil absorbs water, the more frequently it needs to be watered.

If you live in a region that has fairly strong, constant wind, recommend a sprinkler with a low, moderate to heavy spray; otherwise the homeowner can lose up to 40 percent of the water.

Night watering can be recommended because water pressures are higher, winds calmer and temperatures lower to reduce evaporation if the sprinkler has a timer or meter or the homeowner is willing to watch the watering so that the soil isn't overwatered.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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