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More Hort Peeves: Water Wisely!

Summer is heating up! Water wisely!

By Mary Marcotte, Colorado Master Gardener Boulder County

Couple watering seedlingsLarimer County’s Extension Agent, Alison O’Conner, recently coined the phrase “Hort Peeves” in a blog post . I have three of my own hort peeves when it comes to watering.

The first is the use of a “fire hose” nozzle to water plants. This is the old-fashioned brass nozzle. You twist it right or left to adjust the width and power of the spray. I have watched people use a narrow hard spray to water in-ground perennials and shrubs. This forceful spray of water compacts the soil and doesn’t allow water to soak in gradually. Use a nozzle or watering wand in which the water fans out and falls like a gentle rain shower. Save the other nozzle for power-washing the driveway.

The second hort peeve happens when people neglect to water potted plants or hanging baskets because there was a heavy downpour or shower. What may seem like a lot of rain, when measured, often turns out to be surprisingly little, perhaps just a tenth of an inch.

Don’t rely on the rain. Even if you think that a good shower was sufficient, check anyway. If a plant has a lot of foliage, that can act like an umbrella and water doesn’t get to the soil surface where the roots are.  Best to poke a finger in the soil a couple of places around the root zone to test soil moisture.

The third peeve is a drip irrigation system that hasn’t been checked or updated. As plants grow, their root zones expand requiring more emitters be placed to provide enough water. Emitters and tubing become clogged over time. Irrigation lines shift when pins loosen or become dislodged by animals. Complete information on drip systems


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