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Over & Under Watering Your Garden

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Irrigation in Darwin has been a popular topic amongst gardener's with the rising water costs as well as the community becoming more aware of the impact its causing to our environment. Water is the most important factor for a successful garden however getting it right may take a little learning.

Whilst at the local garden nursery the other day in my work uniform I was approached by a lady who wanted to ask me about watering her garden's. What she explained was no matter how much water she seemed to give her garden's by the time she got home from work the plants looked all droopy and under stress. Apart from the obvious question of "what plant's do you have" the main topic I wanted to discuss in detail was her soil. Understanding your soil is vital in keeping a garden looking lush and will save on your water cost's not to mention the stress of seeing your garden wilting away especially in this terrible build up weather.

Firstly do you know what type of soil you have?

Loamy? This soil retains water well but yet also drains well, its ideal for plant growth.


Clay? Easily identified as this soil holds water for long periods. When water hits this soil it can run off in directions away from the plant or tree so its important to water your plants in slowly giving the soil time to soak up the water.



Sandy? This is the opposite from clay, this soil is thirsty and will drink up the water in a flash then dry out just as quick. Plants that are in sandy soils you will find it requires frequent watering in smaller amounts.


In order to get the irrigation/watering correct start by improving your soil with organic matter especially for clay and sandy soils, the organic matter will feed the soil of vital nutrients.

When I say organic think, compost, types of manures, grass clippings, hay, worm castings, peat, leaves basically anything natural. Clay soils will need some lime and possibly gypsum to give it a head  start as well as the organic matter.

How often to water?

There isn't an easy answer here, it will depend on a your soil the temperature & location. I always say your own observation will be the best assessment as no one knows your garden like yourself . What you want to do is try  stretching out your watering by watching the leaves closely, are they curling or browning? Dig a hole near the root zone to investigate the moisture level using your visual assessment combined with digging down should be enough to guide you towards the correct watering amount for the specific location. As your building your soil up, keep the testing going as once the soil starts to hold water you can then adjust the irrigation to water less. Remember plants are pretty resilient and will survive under watering against over watering for example an over watered garden may loose 30ltrs + of water on a dry season day compared to a minimally watered garden that might loose as low as 5ltrs in the same period. Over watering will produce soft plants that will get into the habit of stressing out more and more every time that lack a bit of water.

The bucket Test

Get an everyday 10ltr bucket and now lets test your flow rate!

Fill the bucket with water making sure the tap is fully open, lets say it took 15seconds to fill the bucket that would make it 40ltrs per minute.

(60 seconds divided by 15 = 4 x10ltrs=40 so that's 40ltrs/min  or 2,400ltrs/hour)


When To Water?

I always advise early morning over night watering as over night watering especially in the tropic's as for some plants fungus can be an issue. If that time wont fit into your lifestyle evening is still much better than watering through the day time. Also be sure to weed the garden beds as weeds will compete with the plant sucking away the nutrients.


Bore Water / Hard Water

For those living rural on block's you will most likely have a bore watering your garden's which means your water can be a bit "hard". What I mean is the water has a high mineral content, for most plants you wont really notice anything to worry about but some plant's such as orchid's may need attention. Basically hard water can contain certain salts that are toxic to certain plant's & the soil pH becomes unsuitable for the plant/plant's. The easiest way to see if this is a problem is look at the leaves, are there any mineral deposit's on the leaves? If this is the case try not spraying the leaves, try to use drip irrigation and mulch heavily incorporating organic matter into the mix. Luckily for us we are guaranteed a wet season every year so this will wash away any salt's and re freshen up the garden ready for another hit of the dry season.

Remember we are in the Darwin area and can visit your property to go over all watering issues, happy gardening!







©Lawn Ranger Landscaping & Irrigation
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  • Guest Friday, 11 October 2013

    I like this topical gardening information it is very helpful for people the first observation should have to be taken about the soil.

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Guest Monday, 18 February 2019