The Best time to Water Plants

Adult and child watering plants with a watering can

The Best time to Water Plants

Tending your plants, vegetables, fruits and lawn during the hotter months can seem like a Herculean task. As much as you want to nurture, nature often comes up with long, parched days of relentless sunshine and heat. Identifying the best time to water your plants is more than a question of nourishing healthy plant growth. It’s also about protecting a valuable and potentially costly resource.

With that in mind, here are the best times to water your plants or lawn and keep the green showing through your garden.

Why Your Plants Need Water

In the cooler, wetter winter months, most plants need very little attention. There’s plenty of humidity in the air and enough moisture in the soil to sustain growth. But once the sun starts to rise and scorch and warmer breezes draw out moisture, look out for curling or drooping leaves and dull, pale stems. Light summer showers provide only temporary relief, with the water evaporating before it can penetrate the soil to root depth. You’ll need to water your plants to keep them hydrated, enough to reach a depth of about two inches. That means picking your watering time wisely.

The Best Time to Water Plants

The most efficient use of your water resources is early in the morning when the soil is still damp with overnight dew.

Set up a sprinkler or spray with a hose early in the day and the water can drain into the soil before the sun has a chance to burn it off the surface. In addition to helping you use water more efficiently, this is the time of the day when plants draw up water from their roots, invigorating their leaves for the day ahead.

Regarding Evening Waterings

After a grueling day of hot sunshine, any compassionate gardener will want to soothe limp, parched leaves and fruit or a lawn that feels crisp underfoot. The experts would advise against watering in the evening, however. Yes, the water will seep down to the roots without evaporating, but you also run the risk of leaving wet leaves overnight. This can leave your plants and soil susceptible to powdery mildew or fungus. 

Is Daytime Watering Acceptable?

Not everyone has the time in their schedule to water the lawn before or after work. If you do have to set up a sprinkler system and leave it during the day, try to set a timer to kick in around late afternoon when the sun is on the way down. Bear in mind that most of the water will evaporate, and you have to commit completely.

If you water your lawn only lightly during the day, you’re actually encouraging the roots to grow near the surface, which can harm growth in the long term. Water liberally or not at all.

Soil Moisture Meter in the soil between plants

Know Your Plants

Desert plants or shrubs do not need watering. These hardy plants have deep roots and hold on tight to any moisture. Newly potted or leafy plants, on the other hand, need plenty of water, but always think in terms of the roots rather than leaves. Wherever plants are allowed to grow untamed, they will sink roots to where the moist soil is, especially in sandy soils. When plants are potted, they will need more care because the root system is less robust.

The Best Time of Day to Water Your Lawn

As much as you might want an expanse of verdant lawn in front of the house, sometimes it’s better to allow it to turn dry during summer. Not only will you avoid any ‘drought shaming’ during periods of neighborhood water restriction, but you’ll also be encouraging your grass to work harder. Withhold regular watering and you train the roots to probe deeper for moisture. Without pampering, your grass will go dormant (brown), which doesn’t cause any long-term damage.

Keep the Costs Down

Grass roots typically descend to around six inches, but you’d need about 0.62 gallons of water to cover one square foot to just one inch. If the prospect of using up more than 1,000 liters an hour on your lawn isn’t economical, be frugal and use only water you can collect through rainfall. A tool like an AcuRite weather station or free-standing rain gauge can help you monitor exact rainfall so you can track your usage.

Final Thoughts

You might be called upon to see your plants through the hot summer months with a regular sprinkling of water. Your lawn is made of stronger stuff, however, so conserve resources if you must and show some tough love that encourages deeper roots.

If you’re looking to precisely time your watering — and keep an eye on the environment your garden is growing in — tools like AcuRite’s Soil Moisture Meter and Outdoor Monitor with Liquid & Soil Temperature Sensor can help. You can use both to discover which plants are in dire need of water (and which can go without), as well as track the impact of hotter-than-usual days on your watering schedule. Happy growing!


July 27, 2020
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