For half the year, Southern Florida gets hit with quite the dry spell from October to April. This can be hard on our landscape plants, and it isn’t always easy to keep up with watering! If you want to keep your plants hydrated while being mindful of water usage, practice these guidelines for watering your landscape, and follow a routine according to the best time to water plants in hot weather.
When is the Best Time to Water Plants in The Dry Season?
The time of day that you water your plants can significantly affect how much moisture they’ll receive! Ideally, you’ll want to water your plants very early in the morning or late at night after the sun has gone down. At these times, the ground is cooler, and the sun isn’t beating down on the soil surface. And this way, the water won’t quickly evaporate from the sun—instead, it will soak deeply through the soil, meaning your plants will be able to pull up that moisture easier.
Tips for Watering Florida Landscapes In The Dry Season
If your grass is getting dry and pale, your garden flowers are looking limp, and your tree canopies and shrubs are looking sparse and yellow, it’s time to put some better watering techniques into practice! Try these water-wise methods for South Florida landscapes to make keeping up with your thirsty plants easier.
Topdress Your Sandy Soil
Our soil is very sandy and rocky in Fort Lauderdale, which isn’t great for moisture retention. The rain drains right through! When rainfall isn’t in high supply, and your plants are parched from the heat, topdressing your soil can make a world of difference. Topdressing with compost is a fantastic way to bulk up your soil and help it retain moisture for longer periods. Plus, that compost will deliver tons of nutrients and beneficial bacteria to feed your plants and help them grow bigger and brighter.
Applying a layer of mulch is another option worth considering. Mulch works wonders for blocking the sun from heating up the soil and drying it out, effectively slowing down moisture evaporation. It also blocks weed seeds from germinating, so they won’t hog all the soil moisture and nutrients! Spread a two-inch layer of mulch across the surface of your garden soil and all around your shrubs and trees, being mindful not to pile it up around the base of the plant. This can encourage mold and fungal growth, and you want to avoid that at all costs!
Use a Soaker Hose
Soaker hoses are the ultimate “set it and forget it” tool for watering your lawn, garden, trees, and shrubs. They’re full of tiny holes that release a slow, steady trickle of water into the soil. This helps to water your plants evenly without you having to stand out there with the hose the entire time. Many soaker hoses come with a timer option, so you don’t even have to come back to turn it off afterward. Set it to 30-minutes and water your landscape plants twice weekly—if it looks like your plants need more, then adjust the timer accordingly.
Get a Rain Gauge
A rain gauge can help you keep track of how much moisture your landscape is receiving, making it easier to determine when to water your plants during the dry season. It collects rain in a vessel to help you keep track of how many inches of water we’ve received after a rainfall. Monitor the rainfall, and then water your plants whenever necessary. If we get a good dump of rain, you can hold off on watering for a while. If we get a little bit of rain, take note of how many inches of water has soaked into the soil and then adjust the amount you water accordingly.
Need any compost, mulch, or irrigation systems to help you keep your landscape plants happy and hydrated during Fort Lauderdale’s dry season? Visit Living Color Garden Center, and we’ll get you set up with all the necessary supplies.