Expert Tips for Summer Watering: Key Do’s and Don’ts

Posted on
hand watering a small sprout of a plant
Learn how to water your garden or landscape during the summer months to keep your plants healthy and happy!

If you’re a seasoned desert dweller, you know the pain of sweltering heat all too well. It’s like a never-ending sauna, without the soothing eucalyptus aroma. Let’s face it, most plants don’t thrive in these conditions either. But fear not… with a few simple tricks up your sleeve, you can keep your landscape looking lush all summer long.

Horticulture experts Dr. Q and Joey Lynn share their secrets to successful gardening in the summer months!

To get to the root of the issue, let’s talk about watering. Contrary to popular belief, giving your plants a little midnight drink isn’t the best idea. Sure, it might seem practical to prevent water from evaporating, but it actually increases the risk of fungal diseases. When the soil remains damp in a cool, dark environment, it creates the perfect breeding ground for those pesky fungi. Instead, water your plants in the morning when the sun is low and temperatures are cooler. 

Besides night watering, another common summer watering misconception is that you need to water your plants every day in the summer, when in reality most plants only need a deep watering every two to three days. When you water deeply, the water will soak deeper into the soil, which allows the root system to grow deeper. This will help the root system become strong and established. 

Diagram of root system size from seedling to established tree
Smaller, less established plants tend to have shallow root systems and will require more frequent watering. Larger, more established trees and shrubs tend to have deeper root systems and will benefit from deeper watering.

Not only does watering every day limit the growth of the root system, but you’re essentially putting your plant on a liquid-only diet, depriving it of absorbing any oxygen from the soil. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues. Your plants will start to look like they hit up a juice cleanse and never quite recovered – yellowing leaves, mushy roots, and a foul odor. Nobody wants that! To avoid these issues, make sure your soil drains well and you let it dry out between waterings. Don’t forget to give each plant the amount of water it needs – some need more, some need less. To learn more about the specific watering needs of each plant:

Drip emitter delivering water directly to the root zone of a plant.

If you haven’t already, you’ll want to invest in drip irrigation for the summer months. Unlike traditional sprinkler systems that disperse water into the air, drip systems deliver water directly to the plant’s roots, significantly reducing water waste from evaporation and runoff. With their precision, drip irrigation offers a more efficient and cost-effective way to water your plants. For more information on drip irrigation systems, check out Star Note #905 – Understanding Drip Systems or Star Note #910 – Irrigation System Tune Up.

Although high temperatures can be nerve-wracking for a desert gardener, summer gardening doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Remember to water in the morning, give your plants a break between drinks, and invest in a drip system. If all else fails, just bring your plants inside and crank up the AC! Kidding… kind of. Happy watering!