How Does Your Garden Grow? Pennsylvania American Water Offers Wise Water Usage Tips for Gardeners

HERSHEY, Pa., May 8 /PRNewswire/ -- With the summer growing season approaching, Pennsylvania American Water reminds customers that water is a key element of successful gardening. One of the most important factors in successful gardening is knowing when and how to water.

Most gardening maintenance techniques, such as fertilizing, pest control and pruning, have easy-to-learn rules to follow. But watering has no specific rules, because when to water and how much to water depends on the kinds of plants, types of soil, time of the year, and the weather conditions.

Generally, the leaves of many plants will begin to curl in the early stages of a water shortage. Later, the leaves will become very limp and wilt. Allowing plants to wilt frequently will result in excessive leaf drop and, if plants are allowed to be wilted for several days, they might never recover.

Some plants might not show symptoms of a water shortage until it is too late, so they should be watered when the soil around them feels dry to the touch. In addition, recent plantings need special care. When plants are in containers at the nursery, water is applied every day. During the first couple of seasons after being planted, new plants still have small root systems and can only absorb water from a limited soil area.

Water Early

Keep a close eye on your lawn. If it looks as though it is wilting -- it needs water. If the edges of the grass blades start to curl and take on a dull bluish-gray color, water the lawn immediately.

Lawns should be watered in the early morning, when winds and temperatures are low. Late morning, mid-day, and afternoon irrigation usually results in loss of water from evaporation. Also, strong winds are more likely to blow at these times, resulting in poor distribution of water over the lawn.

The Right Amount

Be sure to water your lawn until the soil is soaked. Frequent, light sprinklings actually waste water and do little to satisfy the water requirements of plants growing in hot, dry soil. It also promotes shallow root systems, which increases susceptibility to damage.

Deep watering, on the other hand, promotes more extensive root systems. The depth of water should be six to 12 inches for lawns and bedding plants, and 12 inches for perennials, shrubs and trees. This type of watering allows the moisture to penetrate into the soil where roots can readily absorb it.

All soils and plants are not alike, and you should adjust the amount of water being applied. Water should be applied only as the soil will absorb it. Water from a hose nozzle turned on full force can do more damage than good. Fast-flowing water runs off quickly carrying soil with it and exposing plant roots to the sun.

You can achieve more efficient watering with soaker hoses, sprinkler systems and drip or trickle irrigation. Soaker hoses do a good job, but they don't cover as large an area as sprinklers.

Drip irrigation supplies plants with constant moisture at a low delivery rate through the use of low pressure plastic tubing installed on or below the ground surface. By wetting only the root zone of the plant, you will save water, weeds are not encouraged to grow and plant growth is accelerated.

This increased growth occurs because the plant is not subjected to wet and dry cycles, which normally occur with other irrigation methods.

    Other Helpful Tips:
    -- Keep weeds under control; weeds steal water from plants.
    -- Add mulch to beds to reduce evaporation from soil and to moderate soil
       temperature, reducing stress on roots. Final depth of your mulch should
       be three to four inches after settling.
    -- Raise the cutting height of your lawn mower. Taller grass uses slightly
       more water than shorter grass. However, a higher cut promotes deeper
       rooting and maintains turf quality longer.
    -- Use a sharp blade when mowing. This produces a cleaner cut that heals
       more quickly and loses less water than a cut made by a dull blade.

Pennsylvania American Water is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to more than 2.1 million people. In addition to its regulated operations, American Water provides operation and maintenance services to an additional 112,000 people in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania American Water is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water (NYSE:AWK). Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs nearly 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to approximately 15.6 million people in 32 states and Ontario, Canada. More information can be found by visiting

Source: Pennsylvania American Water

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