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Q: How much water does my lawn need? Should I be watering my vegetables and flowers every day?
A: As of Aug. 27, the U.S. Drought Monitor placed portions of Minnesota, including Duluth and surrounding areas, in the “moderate drought” category. Many other areas in northern Minnesota are considered to be “abnormally dry.”
During hot, dry spells such as the one we’ve experienced recently, lawns need about an inch of water per week (including rainfall) to continue to be green and growing. The most efficient time to water is early in the morning, from 4-8 a.m., when less water is lost to evaporation due to lower temperatures and less sun-light. Midday watering, although good for plants, isn’t as efficient, as some of the water evaporates before getting into the soil.
Perennials and vegetables need water to grow and develop, too, and the same rule of 1 inch per week applies. The best way to apply water is through drip irrigation or soaker hoses. These can be anchored around plants or along rows with metal staples, although once your vegetable garden is up, it’s hard to place these.
Mulch such as wood chips helps keep moisture in the soil and is especially useful around perennials, shrubs and trees.
Plants also should be spaced to allow good air movement. That helps leaves dry out quickly after rain and watering, which helps prevent disease development.
Don’t forget your trees. You can dig down with your finger in the soil above the roots. If it is dry an inch down, water.
Again, soaker hoses on the ground around the tree are good.
Flowers in pots need water daily.
Rain barrels are helpful in keeping watering costs low.
More on watering, lawns and sustainable practices can be found at http://www.sustland.umn.edu/maint/watering.htm and http://www.sustland.umn.edu/maint/trees.html#3b.