Will Watering with a Sprinkler Burn my Plants?
I have heard that watering in the blistering sun can actually hurt or burn your plants, but this is not true. It is usually best to apply water directly to the soil around plants rather than watering with a sprinkler. When you water the roots, less water is lost to evaporation, especially on hot, sunny days. Foliage stays dry and helps minimize disease problems. But there are benefits to watering with a sprinkle every once in a while.During dry and windy weather a fine layer of dust can build up on leaves, reducing the plants’ ability to photosynthesize efficiently. Some insects, including aphids and spider mites, can be kept in check by simply hosing them off plants. If you use a sprinkler, it is best to do this in the early morning or in the evening.
Do What you Can to Keep Water in the Ground
An organic mulch such as wheat straw, finely ground bark, pine needles, or chopped-up leaves spread on the ground around and under plants is a welcome barrier between the moist soil and the hot sun. A 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch makes a huge difference in hot weather, acting as a shade cloth to hold in moisture and cool plant roots. Without mulch, the intense sun bakes the soil and you end up watering the garden even more. Not to mention the weeds get out of control!
Get to Know your Soil
Dig into your garden and find out whether you have clay or sandy soil. It makes a big difference in your drainage. Clay laden soil presents special watering challenges. Clay has an electrical charge that draws water, pulling it away from plant roots. In dense clay, little room exists for passages that permit the exchange of essential gases with the air above ground. Clay also drains slowly.
Water flows more easily through sandy soil. But if it’s too sandy, water may leach out too quickly and take dissolved nutrients with it. Both clay and sandy soils can be turned into a preferred loam by mixing in organic material, such as compost.
Read the Leaves
Don’t let leaves fool you. If they’re drooping in the hot midday sun, don’t be alarmed. The plants may just be protecting themselves by exposing less surface to the sun and conserving water, unable to pump enough to offset the loss through the leaves.
If the same plants are drooping in the morning or at night, then you can rev up the water wagon, but don’t cause a flood! Saturated soil drives out the air roots need, and plants will drown. And there’s no reason to water the leaves. That can encourage a variety of fungi that develop in moist conditions, causing mildew and blight.