Sunday, June 26, 2011

Water Wise

We had a very dry May and June and I finally had a little relief last week from dragging my hoses all over the yard to keep my garden/yard alive! I recorded 2.5” of rain in 2 days after a really dry spring. Hot, dry summer months are stressful times for plants in the landscape. Without proper moisture, plants cannot grow normally and can become inclined to other stresses like bugs and diseases. It is important to water plants so they develop deep roots. Daily watering can promote shallow roots making it hard for a plant to survive a hot dry summer.

During a drought I worry first about my Trees and shrubs, which are harder and more expensive to replace. The best time to water is in the early morning, when there is less evaporation. It is best to water these in the root area where it will sink in to be taken in by the roots.

After I’m sure my trees and shrubs are cared for I look at the lawn, which can also be expensive to replace if it succumbs to the drought. You have two choices during long, dry, hot summers: Water the grass to keep it green or don't water and let it turn brown and go dormant.

If you decide to keep it green then first determine that your lawn is really dry. Some clues are: Foot printing: Walk across your lawn. If your footprints remain in the grass very long, the lawn is dry. Color test: When a lawn is dry a long time, it will have a bluish-gray cast. Watering brings back the color.
Check leaves: Dry grass responds by wilting, rolling or folding the leaves.

Apply about an inch of water when you determine your yard is dry. This amount should moisten the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Runoff is a problem in my front yard so I apply half and let it soak in before applying more water. I try to water early in the morning but don’t have Irrigation timers. If you have a timer it should be set to water the lawn between 4 and 6 am. Water only as needed. Watering daily can be harmful and encourages shallow roots making the grass less drought tolerant.

Use mulch to decrease evaporation of water from the soil around plant and trees. It will also lower soil temperatures and reduce competition from weeds for water.

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