Irrigation and Other Spring Gardening Guidelines

04/09/2015 | Ken Davis Plant Care, Uncategorized

Once again our spring planting season is moving into full swing! As gardeners are putting new plants into the ground the question most asked at the garden center this week has been, “When do I turn on the water?” The answer is simple: Our growing season is from April though October and irrigation systems should be activated during this time.

Here are the watering practices gleaned from my years of trial and error: This week I just set my irrigation clocks to water trees and shrubs once every 7 to 10 days. In June the weather heats up so that is when, delivering the same volume of water, I bump up frequency to every 5 to 7 days. The key to efficient, effective use of water is occasional long, deep irrigation rather than a more frequent and shallow watering. A drip system should run for 2 – 3 hours at a time to properly penetrate a plant’s entire root zone.

As I said, these are just guidelines but they provide a good starting point to a garden’s specific needs. They seem to work well with heavy soils, but you might need to increase the frequency if you live in areas out towards Granite Mountain or if you garden in faster draining soils. Because water requirements are contingent upon the soil bands going through each yard, these are only general guidelines. Ultimately, your yard will be slightly different from anyone else’s. Even your back yard can be different from your front yard!

When the weather warms, my morning habit is to stroll through the gardens just to keep tabs on how things are growing and monitor soils so that irrigation can be adjusted to the best schedule. A simple visual inspection can be tricky because the soil surface can be dry and crusty while the soil just a few inches deeper can be wet. A water meter is a handy and sure way to test soil moisture five inches below the surface.

Also useful is the excellent, compact, water guide I created that is sized to tape inside the cover of an irrigation timer. This simple guide instructs on both the summer and winter suggested irrigation schedules. It’s at Watters, and free for the asking.

Aqua Boost main labelAqua Boost Crystals – These are polymer crystals that hold 200 times their weight in water right at the root level and then release moisture back to the plant during the heat of the day. They easily double the length of time a gardener can go between irrigation cycles. Even better, the crystals have been laced with seven different beneficial mycorrhizae fungi that stimulate plants to root into their surrounding soils. What we have is a soil additive that holds water at the root level and promotes deeper roots! I find it so helpful that, as I plant it, every plant in my raised beds and container gardens gets a generous dose of these crystals.

Pinyon pine dying of scale infestationPinyon Pine Infestation Threatens Death – This annual scourge has taught us that immediate treatment is imperative! Sad to say, this year’s infestation is really serious. Here are a few photos of what to look for if you have Pinyons on your property. Look for the yellowPinyon pine Needle Scale egg mass and white cottony egg masses laid at the base of each tree. Needle dieback is also a dead giveaway, but look more closely for small black dots on individual needles. These are the actual insects doing all this damage, but can be easily erradicated. Watters created a bug control specifically to combat this pest; it’s called “Plant Protector”. It is so easy to use thPinyon pine scale on needlesat anyone, working alone, can treat several large trees at a time. It is so effective that one application is effective for an entire year! I received the inside scoop from the scientist that created this fabulous product, so I know exactly how to use it. Feel free to sPlant protectortop by the garden center for detailed instructions on how to apply this liquid to prevent scale on your pines.


Until next week, I’ll see you at the garden center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at or www.Facebook page