“The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is warning gardeners that soil dryness levels have already reached level often not encountered until late July/August. The recent low rainfall has led to soils having a moisture deficit of 4 inches. This means that 4 inches of rain would be needed to restore the soil to full moisture capacity.
“It would have to be unusual rainy now to fully replenish the soil so vulnerable plants may need supplementary watering”, says Guy Barter RHS Chief Horticultural Adviser. “Most established trees, shrubs and climbers should have sufficient roots to withstand this level of dryness by using water stored in the soil from winter rain, but as summer rain is seldom sufficient for newly planted trees and shrubs I would suggest that ones planted in the last two years will need watering every 10 days even if there is some rain now.”
The RHS advises that early flowering perennials that have finished flowering can be left to die back. Late flowering perennials will need watering unless the soil is particularly heavy and moist. Raspberries, strawberries and other fruits are likely to respond to some watering. Lawns can be kept green by frequent watering but it is questionable if this is a sensible use of water, when brown lawns will quickly green up when the rain returns.
“If at all possible it would be useful to group containers, especially hanging baskets that can be very vulnerable, in light shade which will help reduce drying out,” says Guy.
The RHS suggests that watering the soil is best practice rather than watering plants and to do this consider making ‘ponds’ round individual plants so that the water can really soak in, ideally wetting the soil quite deeply, say to 25cm (10ins). Through watering like this supports plants for 14 days. Merely wetting the surface wastes water, encourages weeds and can lead to surface rooting making the plant more vulnerable. Watering advice is found on the RHS website.
“Having your own compost heap will not only help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill but also will give gardeners an ideal medium to help make their soils even better for plants,” says Guy. “The RHS has some useful information on compost production on our website.”” This information was supplied by Eoin Redahan at the RHS.
Although I am planning a break from blogging over the summer I don’t intend to fully fall of the blogging grid. Many thanks for all your kind wishes 🙂 Lol… you could be right John and Frank! I’ll get my last lot of nestbox video footage sorted one rainy day and another posting I have in mind. However, until I’m back to full blog rambles I’ve realised that this could be an advantage to some (definitely not all) of the organisations that contact me.
Like many other bloggers, I get quite a few suggestions of material for posting. Some like the RHS above send me press release type mail. I don’t mind that at all. Other companies offer deals on link exchanges where they ask me to write about them or a current campaign and offer text provided by themselves… well I say they ask ‘me’ but often it is clearly an automated mail system and bloggers are just another advertising medium. I usually follow the links given to see but in 95% of the cases I don’t go any further.
The RHS warning above I do fully support. We have had a very dry May/June here in Scotland and only now we are getting a few showers. Seeing as I am trying to keep this brief I’ll just highlight three points on dryness in my own garden. That’s’ the plan anyway 😉
Even established plants can suffer when it’s dry. My clump forming Bamboo shows its displeasure at dry conditions by dropping leaves. The birds highlight this for me as they dig through them for food and spread them all over my lawn.
Watering wisteria when it’s dry over the summer will help flowers the following year. I read/heard that somewhere. I do agree with that. I should point out here that my photos are not really supporting the dry theme of this post as we have had a much needed shower of rain overnight! What a difference it makes to the foliage of plants.
Many plants like summer bedding and container plantings do need regular watering and I have no advice to pass on from experience there. I tend to put plants in pots that can survive the dry like Sedums… in my hanging baskets too. I do have Hostas in pots tucked in cool corners in my back garden too.
During dry spells, my watering regime has always been to help my plants find water themselves by forcing them to become deeper rooted. I do this by watering very heavily at the base of plants with watering cans or my hose. I don’t tend to use a sprinkler/spray on my hose or rose on my watering can.
On average, during a dry spell I’d water my garden after 10 days or so depending on the heat that has accompanied the dry. This works for me although I should also point out that I have a gravel mulch on my front garden and a carpet of ground cover in my cooler back garden which does help to retain any moisture.
On the other side, if a forecast for rain is expected I do go out with the sprinkler on my hose and dampen the ground and foliage first. Lol even when the rain starts… my neighbours must think I’m mad!
Oops… I am in danger of making this too long!! One final point I’d like to add on dryness in the garden… water for birds to bathe and drink. Bird baths do dry out during dry spells too. I have one outside my kitchen window and don’t always get round to filling it up either! In my case drinking water and water bathing can still be found at my small pond nearby.
Addressing the dried up bird bath problem, my ground tray nestled in plants (as a second source for birds bathing) has had a quick summer make-over and a very simple one too. I removed the stones, swept it out and filled it with dry garden soil. I’ve never seen it being used yet but now the birds can have a dry bath to keep themselves free of parasites during these long dry periods of summer.
Hope this info helps this summer. If you’ve any tips to share for particular plants or watering regimes please do share them in the comments below. Butts for collecting water are probably the biggest tip I’d guess and most valuable for ponds too as they evaporate in the heat. Small ponds have a bigger problem as there is less volume. I’ve had to top up mine so the pump doesn’t get exposed and damaged.
Enjoy your warm sunny days, hope it doesn’t get too hot for you, your plants, birds and wildlife to handle 😀
The photos above were taken in my garden (early morning) on June 29th 2010.