Wow, is it hot out there! This summer so much of the U.S. is under heat advisory. Here in the D.C. area we have set countless records already, and it’s still July. After such a damp early spring we are now getting mudcracks in the garden. I would like to share some advise on watering in these extremes.
First- be careful. It is so hot I recommend late evening (8-9 o’clock), or early (pre-dawn to 7 o’clock) watering times. It can actually be harmful to the plants to get them wet in this extreme sun. You can end up with blistering on the leaves and flowers if the sun hits them before the water has dried off. It is also a good idea to drain the saucers on potted plants after an hour or two, if the water has not been absorbed. It is easy to end up with fungus and insect larva in the heat and humidity so many of us are experiencing.
I like to wear old clothes and rubber flip-flops when I’m out watering, that way I can hose myself off to stay cool as well! A big hat, sunscreen, bug repellent are all good ideas, but I really advise to just wait until the sun has gone down or at very least, has traveled off the garden before I water it.
One of my all time favorite inventions has got to be the soaker hose. If you combine one with a quick connect, and a timer on the hose, you can really
accomplish everything you need to with out even having to brave the heat. With a soaker hose you get the water exactly where you need it on the root zone, so you aren’t wasting a bit of precious water. Even more water conscious would be a drip irrigation system, with individual emitters for each plant, but these systems are not as easily changed each year for different planting formations.
That brings me to the lawn, and whether or not to water or let it go dormant. I think that totally depends on your long term weather forcast. If you are experiencing just a short term dry spell then I would recommend watering. Most turf needs approximately 1″ of water/rain per week. If you long term forcast is an extended drought, I would suggest letting your lawn go dormant. It is healthier for the lawn to allow this, because it struggles too much when it is too hot and dry. Don’t worry, it will come back in the fall, and look healthy and green again.
Trees however should be deep watered at least every 2 weeks, if they are small, tender, or newly planted within the last year. I just let the hose trickle, so that the water sinks in immediately, or use a soaker hose coiled around the tree a few times, letting it run for about 20 minutes to 1/2 hour.
The best tip I can offer is to think cool thoughts, and imagine yourself in snow.
We will have cool weather before you know it!