Watering Strategies

Whether or not the preceding months have been kind with abundant rainfall, the gardener should now be alert for summer drought conditions which could occur at any time now. A typical pattern of the last several years has been for rainfall to be shut off in early July, leaving normally well-hydrated plants lacking sufficient water.

[singlepic id=1 w=320 h=240 float=right]Proper watering is essential to keep plants healthy. The main rule of thumb is to water deeply and as infrequently as possible, as opposed to frequent, light sprinklings. This will encourage a deeper root system that can take advantage of a larger volume or “bank account” of water stored in the soil. Frequent and light sprinklings tend to keep the majority of plant roots near the surface of the soil. Plants with this type of root system are more susceptible to extreme heat and water shortages and are easily stressed during the summer.

One of the best strategies for getting shrubs and young trees through summertime dry spells is to apply a thick layer of mulch over the root systems of plants. All organic mulches break down over time, so if it has been awhile since you’ve mulched, carefully check all plants in your yard. A three to four inch layer will prevent most evaporation from the soil and significantly lower the soil temperature in the root zone, reducing stress on the root system. Enviro-Care can come out and give a quick estimate for mulching your lawn, call us at 903-534-2800 for more information.

Lawns at this time of year are rapidly growing and need frequent mowing. The best lawns will be those that are mowed regularly. As rainfall becomes less regular, irrigation will need to be more frequent. Lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. Use rain gauge to
actually measure how much rain you’re receiving. This can be supplied in one or more applications per week, depending on the soil type and how hot and dry the weather has been. Sandy soils need more requent watering, as do newly planted lawns. Watch out for lawn pests. Chinch bugs multiply rapidly in warm weather, and their feeding causes St. Augustine grass to look like drought stress. No treatment is needed until symptoms first appear. Look for wilting grass which does not respond to water. The grass will continue to dry, giving it a burned look. Look for tiny, 1/6 to 1/5 inch bugs scurrying quickly up and down grass blades and or scurrying to hide down in the thatch. When watering lawns duringĀ  hot weather, do it early in the morning.

Otherwise, much of the water will evaporate from the grass before the plants get to use it. To further avoid excess evaporation, use a sprinkler that produces large drops of water instead of a fine mist. Azalea lace bugs are a major pest of azaleas, and increase rapidly in the
summer time. Affected azalea leaves look like they are stippled until they are almost white. A quick look on the underside of leaves will reveal black, varnish-like spots which is a sure sign of azalea lace bugs. If you have any questions or concerns about your summer lawn please feel free to give us a call at 903-534-2800!