Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Major Heat Event and Drought



Plants, Trees, and Shrubs Suffer from Drought


I guess I should be careful what I wish for…..  Summer.  Not the laid-back,warm, sunny time I was thinking.  As the charts above indicate, the oranges show a major deficit of rainfall in the range or 4” to 6” in a vast part of the mid-west.  And the local weather forecast for SW Ohio, has the next seven days at or above 90 degrees. 
The rain barrels are empty and even the forsythia are in a major droop.
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Some watering tips for salvaging the landscape:
Shrubs and trees that have been planted within the last year need water now.  Soak the ground at the base to saturate the top 6”-8” of soil.  Tree roots are not too deep, so this depth will greatly increase the likelihood of survival of the plant. 
Newly planted perennials need to stay moist to assure their survival.  Even the drought resistant natives need to be watered in this extreme heat. 
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Here I have Shasta Daisies, Bee Balm, and Purple coneflowers and daylilies– all have shown major stress.  I have the clematis tucked in back, so they are getting a good drink too.

Ideally, this oscillating sprinkler is NOT a good choice to manage water efficiently.  The evaporation is high, and the foliage – not the root zone- is getting wet. Soaker hoses and drip systems deliver water much more efficiently, but until I can set this up I’ll have to make due and pay through the ‘hose’.
a soaker hose goes straight to
Water is a precious commodity.  I urge gardeners to group plants with similar water needs.  Then watering can be focused in a limited area, and more drought tolerant plants can be put off till ‘next time’!
If you are tempted to move plant material – don’t!  Fall is a more desirable time to transplant or install new plant material.  Take notes on the sun and shade areas, and the water needs of the plants and make the moves in the cooler more rainy autumn. (Hope, Hope).
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The lawn we have installed this year is an example of ‘planning’ to save water.  I purchased a seed mix of a drought tolerant variety.  Ask the garden center staff which varieties are best for your space, but always keep the watering issues in the back of your mind.  A Kentucky bluegrass may be a desirable look in the landscape, but is a high maintenance – and high water usage – choice.
save water
When the lawn does get on the watering schedule, water deeply.  Most experts recommend at least 1 inch of water a week. ( I have taken a straight sided baking dish under the sprinkler so I can measure this 1 inch.)

 Deep roots and organically fed soils take water deeply, and hold moisture better than hard, cracked soils.
water waste
Avoid this scene – having water dousing the sidewalks, and driveways.  If water is draining off into the gutters, stop the watering and let the water sink into the soil.  Resume watering later to finish the deep watering the grass needs.
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Using extra water was not my plan.  Water is expensive and limited.  However, the plant material – worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, is too valuable to let it perish.  So, I urge my gardening friends, to water now.  The drought and heat are not going away any time soon. 
Stay cool - 
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