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This time of year we humans tend to be thrilled by the increasingly frequent warm, dry days and put off by what seems and endless succession of rainy days.
Your garden, especially if newly planted, sees thing differently.
It most likely thinks its about to slow down its most verdant growth to conserve moisture in the face of a dramatic reduction of moisture and increase in evaporation.
The reality is that very little moisture has been coming out of the skies. What may feel like a rainy day to you and me means almost no moisture reaching the soils. In my 16 years of Northwest horticultural experience I see perhaps more damage from people not watering in mid-Spring than anytime of year. Generally, we think to water in the height of Summer. This time of year we let it slide.
What to do? This is the nuanced part where it all depends on the amount of rain. It is the time of year to most carefully pay attention to the weather and your garden soil. I can guarantee that you don’t need to water during January. I can guarantee, or almost, that you need to during August. This time of year you are going to need to pay attention to the rains and how dry you soil really is.
Lawns will need 1’’ per week of rain. Perennials, perhaps half that, depending the planting. Best is to take a trowel to the ground and make sure it is not dry 1.5’’ below the surface.
If all this is too complicated, simply make sure your irrigation system is on by May first, with a rain sensor. That will probably give a bit more than needed but will ensure you don’t miss the all important Spring growing season due to drought. If you can set your lawn to every other day for ten minutes and the rest of the garden for once or twice a week you should be good.
If you don’t have an irrigation system, you might consider the investment. Summer watering is right up there with weeding as the number one maintenance in our Mediterranean climate.