It's the first official full day of summer, but from the heat we're experiencing here in central New Jersey, you'd think it was the middle of August. Let's face it; you can’t turn off the sun. But you can turn on your hose and save your plants by watering wisely and well throughout the summer months. Follow these helpful tips from HouseLogic to keep your lawn lush and beautiful all summer long.
Jim Sutton of Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania has nursed shrubs and trees through several heat waves, and he offers four vital tips on how to help your landscaping beat the heat:
First, know when your plants are stressed; you can often tell because many stressed plants actually look thirsty. Green foliage turns gray and droops; blossoms and leaves fall to the ground in a desperate attempt to save the shrub. A deep watering often brings a plant back, or at least saves it so it’ll bud next year. If the leaves are crispy, or the plant continues to look parched in the evening, then accept the fact that it's dead. Add it to the compost pile to someday nourish its luckier neighbors.
Next, throughout periods of heat and drought, save what you can in this descending order:
Newly planted shrubs and trees, vulnerable and pricey landscaping
Perennials: Cut blossoms and stalks, which gives plants a rest and raises chances of returning next year.
Established trees and shrubs, at least two years old, which have deep roots.
Container plants: Move them onto a porch or under a shade tree.
Water deep, not often. Water should reach eight to 12 inches down, creating a well of water for plants and trees to draw upon in high heat. To determine if you’ve reached your mark, press a large screwdriver into the soil: If it meets resistance, keep watering.
Hand-watering with a garden hose and aerator is best. Count to ten as you water the base of plants. Move and repeat. If you have lots of property to water, use a sprinkler but adjust it so it doesn’t waste over-spray on driveways and walkways.
Water in the early morning: Not 7am when you usually roll out of bed, but when the sun rises at 5am or 6am. If water restrictions require only evening watering, soak them well and don’t fret about fungus forming on leaves that stay damp throughout the night: A little powdery mildew won’t kill your shrubs, but dehydration will.
Finally, if you didn’t mulch in spring, do it now. Mulch will keep moisture in the ground and suppress weeds, which compete with landscaping for water. If you haven’t mulched, water thoroughly, then add mulch to a depth of three to four inches.
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