You see it in retail nurseries and on landscape jobs- the newest team member with a hose in hand. Wrong! This is a job best left for the experts.
Plants in the garden have wildly differing water requirements and should be treated the right way if you want good results.
Consider the requirements of a fleshy foliaged tropical plant in sandy soils against a tiny succulent in winter in a glasshouse in the back blocks of Geelong.
The first may need a long soak using ten litres of water daily whereas the latter may use a cupful a month.
So what factors come into play when considering ‘how much’?
How big is the plant (is it a tree or a ground cover?), what type of soil is it planted into (clay/loam/sand?), how wind and exposed is it? Is the plant in the shade or full sun? The leaves…broad/fleshy/grey foliaged/cylinders/hairy or succulent? Is the plant established and only in need of a bit of a help in the dry months or was it just planted last week and is yet to send out a network of roots? Are the plants in company of other species that have similar water needs?
Are you on a slope (no, not at Blue Cow about to ski down, I’m talking about the location of the plants! stay focussed here). Close to large trees? Boggy soils? Has construction works intercepted the natural overland flow?
Make a mental note of all these elements to formulate a watering plan that will always be adapted as seasons change and time passes.
Finally, how lush do you want your plants? Will maintenance levels be perfectly fine or is the cost and time to promote luxuriance of little consequence?
The fact is that it is difficult to assign a specific volume to a single plant or group in a garden because of all the variables. You can start out with a guess and then modify the volume as your observation of what’s working locks in. That’s part of the fun of ‘growing’ your garden. It responds to your considered and caring hand.
It’s a challenge to get the best out of plants.
While all that can sound daunting, it’s not. Plants are really quite forgiving and will signal to you when they are thirsty or waterlogged. All it takes is observation and response on your behalf. We like the rule for young plants (which haven’t yet sent out feeding roots) to water every day for the first week, every second day for the second week and every third day for the third, adjusting for rain of course.
Water, monitor, adjust as required.
Don’t leave it to automated sprinklers, dark looming clouds or teenage boys.
You’ll get too much, not enough and none.