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Tips for watering conservation

Give your plants the moisture they need while conserving water.

Radio interview source: Dennis Patton, Extension Horticulture Agent, Kansas State University

The best way to water the plants is to let Mother Nature do it. Unfortunately it doesn't rain as often as we'd like in mid-summer, so when it's hot and dry, your gardens need constant watering. The ideal time of day to water is early in the morning. Temperatures are cooler, and there's usually less wind, reducing evaporation. It also gives plants the chance to quickly dry off. Leaves that stay wet all night are more susceptible to disease.

If you have to water on windy days, closely watch your sprinkler patterns so you're not dousing something that shouldn't be. Kansas State Extension Horticulture Agent Dennis Patton says one way to get around wind issues is to keep the water on the ground by using flood-type irrigation or soaker hoses.

"You can put those right at the base of the plants, under the mulch, so all your water is efficiently used," says Patton. "And then the rules as far as air temperature, wind speed, watering night versus day, is all thrown out the window because the water's going directly on the soil. Not into the air, not onto the leaves, and it benefits the plant."

In general, plants need about an-inch of water per-week. It's best delivered with deep, infrequent applications. If you water lightly every day, it will evaporate before it gets down to the roots in the soil.

Another efficient way to save on water is to group your plants by their moisture needs. Then you'll avoid running the sprinkler over the entire area.

Don't forget to put down a layer of mulch. It keeps the sun rays from drying out the soil, and the soil stays cooler.

Listen here to the radio story: Tips for watering conservation

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