By: Andrew Obloy
A lot of things go into keeping your garden happy and healthy, mainly soil condition, sunlight, and water. An irrigation system, whether done by hand or a programmed system, is important in both new and established gardens. Our unpredictable Mid Atlantic climate, in particular, makes an irrigation system crucial to keeping your plants healthy. However, it takes knowledge of both the property and plants to make sure everything runs smoothly.
First, let’s talk about why water is important to plants. Water is absorbed by the roots and carries the nutrients it needs through the plant, if a plant is not absorbing water, then it doesn’t get the nutrients it needs. However, if a plant has too much water the roots can rot. There is a delicate balance we have to maintain in order to keep everything healthy. That’s where an irrigation system comes in. Irrigation systems can be set to water each part of your garden just the right amount. With knowledge of the plants, sunlight, drainage you can fine tune the watering schedule. It can even be adjusted according to the weather or time of year and with a rain sensor, it won’t overwater if there is a lot of rain.
Irrigation in particular is really important with new gardens or any new plantings. A new plant doesn’t have its root system established enough in the existing soil to properly pull water and nutrient from it, so you have to supply more water so it can establish its roots. The amount of water varies depending on the plant and the season but with young plants they will always need a lot of water, because their roots have not had time to anchor themselves into the soil. Sure, you could manually water them, but that takes a lot of time and effort. With an irrigation system you can set it to water new plants more until they are established. With an irrigation system your garden is split into zones which means you can pinpoint a zone with new plantings to give them extra water without over watering your established plants. This also helps with annuals and pots as they need more water than most of the garden.
Water is very important in new gardens, but also plays an important role in mature gardens, especially in unpredictable climates. Regulation of water is key. Pretty much every garden has plants or areas that will need more water than others. You have to think about a plant’s specific needs—Does it inherently require more water to survive? Where is it located? How much sun does it need? The entire garden will change over time as plants mature and the needs of the plants change with it. The irrigation system will help to keep up with that and make it easier to adjust to what your garden needs. Weather is also a huge factor, with a lot of dry hot days, even an established plant is going to struggle without proper watering, or if a plant starts to get too much water, you can cut the irrigation off in that area to help it bounce back and then water again when it ready.
Overall, water is one of the most crucial factors in keeping any garden thriving. Whether new or old every garden needs water and it needs to be regulated. Irrigation is the best tool to help make that happen and keep your gardens healthy.