We, in Illinois, are experiencing above average temperatures and below-average rainfall.
Tomorrow we could be hitting 100°s with little rain in sight!!!
With a weather forecast like this I start preparing my garden and hubs lawn for what is to come.
When I took the Illinois Master Gardener training program we learned that deep and less frequent watering was the key to healthy gardens and lawns!
1) Did you mulch? Newsflash: High temperatures kill plant roots – mulch keep roots cool! This is 1 of the best and most effective things a homeowner can do to help protect plants, trees, and shrubs from summer’s heat and drough!
So What if you didn’t mulch?
2) Plants get sunburns too! Don’t water the foliage of any plant in the hot afternoon sun because it will burn the leaves.
3) How to water plants: imagine standing in front of the sink and filling up an empty one gallon milk jug with water. How long does it take before the gallon size jug is filled? It takes about one minute.
That’s how long it would take for a plant in a gallon size container, or a plant already planted in the ground with the same depth and width, to get water from bottom to top. If you go over to your garden, after you’ve sprayed it with the hose, and dig down 2-3 inches, you’re more than likely to find dry soil. Soak it!
So water deeply, so the roots deep in the subsoil are quenched. This, in turn, encourages deeper root growth and makes your plants better able to withstand drought conditions.
3) Early morning and evenings are best time to water. Avoid watering in high winds or in the heat of the day.
Lawn Care Tips:
1) Be Realistic: Forget the picture-perfect lawn!!! During a heat spell/ drought a more realistic goal is to keep grass alive.
2) Reduce or eliminate fertilizing until normal rainfall resumes. Avoid synthetic fertilizers.
3) Most lawns need about 1 inch of water a week, during a drought they can get by with 1/2 inch.
To find out how much water your sprinkler is putting out per hour place several containers (empty tuna or coffee can in each zone being watered (I used 3 small glasses). You can check in 15 minutes, measure water in glass and multiply times 4.
If you see runoff on to sidewalk or street, stop watering until it is absorbed, then continue again until you’ve applied 1/2 to one inch of water.
4) Keep the grass tall! Cut when lawn reaches over 3″ high, cut no more than 1/3″ off. Taller grass shades the roots, and the promotes deeper roots. Cutting shorter puts stress on lawns, many crop their lawns way to short.
5) Recycle lawn clippings on lawn. Clippings doesn’t add thatch to your lawn, but returns nutrients and moisture.
Trees and Shrubs:
1) Contrary to popular belief, the bulk of tree roots are in the top 12-18 inches of the soil! When soil temperatures at or above 95 degrees F. kills plant roots. Without mulch, summer soil temperatures can sometimes reach 110 degrees F. at 2″ deep and 100 degrees F. at 4″ deep. That alone can spell disaster for a tree or other plant.
2) A 3-4 inch layer of organic mulch can go a long way toward protecting your plants from summer’s heat and drought.
3) A general rule of thumb is to use approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter for each watering. Measure trunk diameter at knee height. General formula: Tree Diameter x 5 minutes = Total Watering Time
Example: When you hand water using a hose at medium pressure, it will take approximately 5 minutes to produce 10 gallons of water. If you have a 4” diameter tree, it should receive 40 gallons of water – multiply by 5 minutes to equal total watering time of 20 minutes.
For my larger trees, I leave a dripping hose on for 12 hours, moving every four hours around the tree.
Hope these tips help you maintain your garden and lawns during the hot days of summer!
Got to run, need to move the sprinkler!