This is the time of year that if you are not on our maintenance list, you should be! Keeping your garden and landscapes living and healthy during extended periods of drought during the summer months can be challenging. So far we have had adequate water but there's an old adage in Atlanta, "If you don't like the weather - wait fifteen minutes, it will change." Thing is, the weather man can predict rain and it will rain on every property except yours. If the same guy/girl says, "No rain." your property will get drenched!
A couple of ideas:
- The summer months bring water restrictions and even total water bans. If faced odd/even watering and voluntary conservation methods, abide by them!
- Water early in the morning. Although plants and lawns can be watered any time of the day, it is still more efficient to water them early in the morning. When you use sprinklers, some water evaporates even before reaching the ground. Given the hot conditions during the summer months, the lost amount of water can be significant to your lawn. But when you water your lawn early in the morning, the least amount of water is lost through evaporation.
- Water deeply but less frequently. Roots have the tendency to follow water. If you frequently water your lawn and plants shallowly, the roots tend to collect up near the top of the soil surface. This makes them vulnerable to hot weather. Most shallow roots get baked at the end of the summer season. To prevent this, water your lawn and plants deeply but less frequently. Encourage deep root growth but at the same time, make sure that you apply sufficient water to penetrate root zones.
- Add a rain gauge to your irrigation system. If it rains the system will not come on!
- New landscapes and sodding are usually given options. Ask us about them and abide by them.
- Choosing plants that are tolerant of droughts and limited waterings during the summer will be a design option, especially if your community experiences water bans on a regular basis. Sample drought tolerant plants are: oaks, crabapples, bearberry, butterfly bush, bayberry, potentilla, junipers, inkberry, spruce, coreopsis, purple cone flower, sage, Black-Eyed Susan, calendula, cleome and dusty miller.
- During periods of drought stress mow your lawn 3” or higher to help shade the roots, water infrequently (or when you are allowed to) and deeply to encourage the roots to penetrate deeply into the soil. Refrain from fertilizing your lawn during the summer months (it’s natural cycle is to slow down during the summer) and begin to actively grow again in the fall.
- Applying mulches to your gardens, beds and plantings will help to maintain the moisture in the ground, moderate soil temperatures and prevent weeds from growing. A good quality shredded pine bark mulch, clean cut straw, newspapers, pine needles and other natural and organic mulches will help to significantly reduce the amount of water that escapes due to evaporation...reducing the need for frequent watering.
- You would be amazed how many gallons of precious water can be lost through leaks in the hose or a faucet that does not shut off completely. Have a supply of washers on hand for faucets and hoses to make them water tight!
- One of the most efficient ways to water plants in gardens, planters and window boxes is to install a drip irrigation system. Through emitters, drip irrigation lets small amounts of water drip onto the base of plants (where it penetrates into the roots) with minimal evaporation and under low pressure. Once the area around the plant is moist the drip system will be able to easily maintain the water needs of the plants...without wasting water by above ground irrigation.
A professional lawn care service like the experts at Precision can survey your landscape to spot any dangers for early lawn disease and to identify the best types of weed control products or other lawn care treatments to ensure a healthy, green lawn throughout the summer. Call us if you need help!
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The mornings are still crisp and the days are not yet encircled with oppressive humidity. It really is a great time of year to do anything outside. While I am enjoying fishing, I also am already locating the places I will hang a tree stand in preparation for deer season. If I wait until the summer months I will only be able to endure short stints outside. There is a small window of opportunity available before I will have to pay the price of being in the bubble' of the sweltering heat.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to go on a hog hunt in Arkansas. Even though it was during the early summer, there was an unusual cold spell that made it somewhat bearable. Instead of 2 million mosquitoes, there were only a million I had my Thermocell (battery powered mosquito repellant) strapped onto a chair between me and my guide. These devices are supposed to create a sort of force field that encompasses about a 15 feet diameter area. Since there were so many mosquitoes it seems they were willing to push the limits of that distance. While the repellant worked, it seems that I would only have to extend my arm to get outside the field of protection. So I huddled up and stayed within the confines of safety.
When I think about either of these examples, I am reminded of limits or parameters. Sometimes the comfort and safety within these are achieved by staying outside the boundaries and sometimes it is by staying inside the boundaries. And perhaps the only difference is perspective.
Regardless of the perspective, not only must there be boundaries but there must be something that warns us when we are approaching those boundaries. It's sort of like those ridges on each side of the highway that let you know you have veered off the road. They startle you enough without causing harm, to cause you to make the necessary adjustments. The ridges are not the danger zone but only a warning that you are getting too close to it.
Many view the Scriptures as simply a way to keep you and me from having fun, when in fact it is just the opposite. God's word is not a killjoy but ridges on this highway we call life and if obeyed, we save ourselves from mountains of hard-ship and heartache. God has designed this universe, our Earth, and mainly mankind to function a certain way in order to get the most out of it. That's why He gave us' instructions. They are not for His good, but for outs.
(Editor's Note: Outdoor Truths is a weekly sportsman's article that appears in newspapers and regional magazines across 13 states in the South, and Midwest.)