Mother Nature has sent our lawns and gardens on a dizzying roller coaster ride this summer by dishing out heavy rains one day and dry, extremely hot conditions the next. It’s up to us to give grass, plants and shrubs the deep, consistent watering on which they thrive.
Kim Gaida with Dundee Nursery says many people set up irrigation systems to water for about a half hour each day. She says that won’t help plants in extreme temperatures. Rather than daily, shallow watering, do infrequent, deep watering.
Deep watering allows water to soak deeper into the root zone and encourages deeper roots. Deeper roots are more drought resistant.
The average lawn needs about one inch of water a week. Even if your lawn goes dormant and turns brown and crunchy, you still have to follow the one inch a week rule to keep the lawn from dying off.
Gaida suggests “maybe changing your irrigation system to go off once or twice a week for an hour to get the water 12 inches or further into your soil so that your roots have to chase it where there is normal moisture in the soil, and it will keep your lawn happier in the dry periods.”
To keep trees, shrubs and other plants happy, she says you can “put a regular hose at a slow trickle at the base of your plant and move it around 45 minutes to an hour per plant, depending on how big they are.”
There are other types of irrigation systems you can buy that will keep you from having to drag your hose all over the yard.
A soaker hose distributes water without spraying it into the air. The water slowly seeps through the pores of the hose. You can lay it in the yard in a straight line or snake it through your garden bed. You can also leave it in the garden and cover it with mulch.
Toro has a new product called the Hose End Drip Kit. The company has a variety of these kits made for containers, vegetables and herbs or specifically for tomatoes. You can also purchase a timer for it.
“If you’re frequently away up at the cabin you can set the timer to go off every so often, every 12 hours,” says Gaida, “and have it run for half an hour to keep your pots and gardens from needing a neighbor to come over and take care of it.”
Finally, the Treegator is a bag that sits at the base of a tree. You might see a few at the bottom of newly planted trees throughout the city of Plymouth. You can fill the bag with up to 15 gallons of water that slowly releases into the roots through a drip system over the course of eight hours.
Despite recent heavy rains, it’s still important to keep up with your weekly watering routine; especially as conditions heat up and dry out.
July 24, 2012