Something that’s been on everyone’s mind lately is this ridiculous heat! Record temps and high humidity are an inconvenience to us all — and let’s not forget they can be dangerous. It seems everywhere we go someone is giving us advise on how to stay safe during this brutal summer heat. Luckily most of us do have an option that our landscapes do not…air conditioning! If you’re like me and have to work outside, the best thing you can do is stay hydrated, drink plenty of water, and don’t overdo it. If you take that same principle and apply it to your landscape, however, you could be doing more harm than good! Over-watering during these summer months is more common that you would imagine! In addition to pouring water down the drain, you could be contributing to the malnourishment and even death of your plants, trees and turf.
Plants and Trees – Whether you’ve got an irrigation system or you’re watering your plant material by hand, it’s easy to assume that any signs of stress can be fixed with more water. This is not the case, as many times a plant can show similar signs whether they’re too dry or too wet. It’s always a good idea to check the soil before making adjustments with your watering. That means you may have to get dirty and dig down a little. If you’re irrigating your plants and trees with spray irrigation heads, you may want to consider a more efficient method – drip irrigation. However, with the rising popularity of drip irrigation over the past few years, many people tend to over-water their plants. Given that the watering takes place very slowly and is often directly over the root ball of the plant, saturation can be easily attained with one long watering a week for mature plants. Once this saturation has occurred, it’s important to allow some drying time so that the rootzone can breath. If you think about it, plants and trees in nature do just fine with an occasional rainfall. Again, no matter what method you use to irrigate the plants and trees around your home, never assume that MORE water is the answer. Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty in order to be sure the adjustments you’re making are the right ones.
Sod – Lawn – Turf – As I’m sure most of you know, keeping a fescue lawn healthy during the summer months can prove to be a daunting task. Nothing is more disappointing that seeing that beautiful spring grass wither away as the heat roles in. However, with proper maintenance techniques, it is possible to limp a cool-season grass through the hot summer months. Watering will have to be part of the plan, though it’s very important to apply the proper amount of water. Heavy watering can drown turf very quickly. Also, the wasteful runoff can cause it to lay down and die in the swales. Another factor that plagues lawns throughout our region is fungus…Brown Patch being the most notorious culprit. Overwatering along with other factors like high nitrogen content, watering schedule and high humidity contribute to creating an atmosphere for fungi to thrive. The typical rule of thumb for irrigating mature turf is to do it early in the morning, allowing the moisture levels to decrease throughout the day. An afternoon drink in the summer is normally not recommended as the higher evening humidity combined with moisture from irrigation will almost certainly invite the fungus. Preventative fungicide treatemetns are also highly recommended during these summer months.
The moral to the story is that proper watering is crucial to the health of your landscape…and your wallet. Remember, never assume your plants, trees and turf need MORE water. Proper monitoring and decision making with regards to the irrigation of your landscape will make all the difference. Just remember, while you’re out there checking on everything, make sure you stay hydrated!