Help your lawn thrive through the dog days of summer
Thursday, April 18, 2013 3:35 AM
Summer can take its toll on just about everyone. Even the most ardent fan of summer eventually grows weary of a heat wave, which can make something as simple as walking down the street seem exhausting.
Watering a lawn regularly through the summer can create a lush cover to a lawn, creating a comfortable place to relax.
While human beings have their ways of surviving summer heat, such survival can be more difficult for your lawn and garden. Certain grasses and plants thrive in hot weather. But when the dog days of summer arrive, even those grasses and plants built to withstand the summer sun can suffer. That's why watering takes on such importance in the summertime, when grasses and plants need water to avoid drying out and possibly even dying. The following are a few basic watering techniques to help homeowners keep their lawns going strong through the next summer swoon.
Water when it's coolest. Watering when the temperatures are their lowest might seem counterintuitive. After all, homeowners might think their grass and gardens need water most when the temperature is at its highest. But watering when the temperature is cooler decreases evaporation, meaning your lawn will get the water it needs and won't lose any to steamy conditions that cause evaporation. This is especially important when the amount of water you can use is limited by a drought restriction. You'll want to make sure the water you can use is actually going to the lawn and not evaporating as you're watering.
Watering in the early morning or in the evening, when the sun is not as strong and the temperatures are generally at their coolest, also reduces the likelihood that your grass will burn. That's because water attracts the sun, and a lawn that's wet in the middle of a hot day might attract too much sun and cause the lawn to burn.
Recognize that not all plants are the same. How much water a plant needs and how frequently it needs to be watered largely depends on how deep its roots are. A plant with shallow roots won't need to be watered for long periods of time, but it will need to be watered frequently, whereas a deep-rooted plant like a tree or a shrub will need to be watered for long periods of time but not as frequently. Research the plants around your property to determine the depths of their root systems and water accordingly.
Lean on mulch to retain moisture. Mulch is often considered an aesthetically appealing addition to a landscape, but it serves a practical purpose as well. Mulch retains moisture during the hot summer months, reducing the need to water -- a valuable benefit during a drought restriction. Mulch also makes it difficult for weeds to grow, which can keep homeowners from spending hot summer afternoons pulling weeds out of their gardens and flower beds.
Strategically locate sprinklers. Sprinklers should be located so no water is ending up on the driveway or sidewalks around your property. Watering the concrete or asphalt is wasteful, and that's water that could be going toward your plants. When watering by hand, be sure all of the water is finding its way to plants and not on any walkways.
Successfully watering a lawn and garden during the dog days of summer can greatly reduce the risk of ending summer with a lawn full of bald spots and a garden filled with wilted plants.