Contributed by Lynn Hutchinski
You would think we wouldn’t have to worry about watering now after all that snow we slogged through this past winter. However, you’d better get out your watering hoses and sprinklers. After a record-breaking108-plus inches of snow, our precipitation totals for the past 2 ½ months are less than half of our normal rainfall – only about 5 inches for March, April and half of May. The last truly measurable amount of rain was on April 20th (1/2 inch), and before that, March 26th (1/2 inch). Our plants are panting for moisture.
With so much snowfall, what happened to the water? Well, usually 10 inches of snow would give us 1 inch of water, but when the weather is bitterly cold for prolonged periods (remember hunkering down for most of February? Even the governor told us to hunker down!), the snow is lighter and has much less water content when melted. Our 108 inches of snow only gave us about 5 inches of water instead of the 11 inches we should have had.
And if April showers bring May flowers, we shouldn’t have had any this year given the lack of rainfall. As the weather forecasters like to say, we’re in a dry pattern which looks to continue for probably the rest of the month and possibly into June.
At our garden maintenance services, we recommend deep watering to get moisture down into the top 18” of soil where the majority of water-absorbing roots are found. The ideal method is the slow-soak method – put your hose at the base of the plant and turn on a low trickle from your hose for 1 hour per plant. Keep track with a kitchen timer so you don’t forget and leave the hose running. If you are fortunate enough to have a sprinkler system, use it! An adequate amount of water would be 1-2” of water every 4-7 days, as we continue to have little or no rainfall.
So get out those hoses and turn on those sprinkler systems, and plan for weekly watering. Our plants are a valuable investment and provide shade, decrease noise pollution, and cleanse the air, as well as giving us a relaxing alternative to the urban environment.