Thursday, August 18, 2011

100 Tips in 100 Days - Day 18

When the local weather forecast shows excessive heat with no rain over an extended period of time it can make a lawn lover a little nervous. My husband and I both love to work in our yard. This is a favorite way for us to spend time together especially in the spring and fall. This summer has proved to be just the opposite due to a heat wave we have experienced here in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area.Temperatures have consistently stayed well over 100 degrees during the day and hovered between 79 - 82 for a low with almost no rain during this entire summer.  Frustrating. When I was sharing with my husband how concerned I was over the whole situation while looking out at an entire neighborhood that is beginning to resemble a hay field one evening, he had a great point. He said, " Yeah, this is bad , but you can bet one thing is for sure, the yards and plants that do make it through this rough year will be stronger than ever." Way to keep the glass half full!  I want to this opportunity to strongly encourage each of you to conserve water as much as possible by watering late in the evening or early in the morning no more than three times a week. I found the following article on by Colleen Vanderlinden which has some helpful tips how to relieve some stress from your garden and lawn during these dry, hot days.

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Heat stress in garden plants is a real problem during July and August in much of the country. Extended periods of high heat (particularly when the heat index roars over the 100 degree mark) can take a real toll on your garden.
Here are a few tips for helping different plants in your garden through a hot, dry spell and keep them healthy and productive.
Vegetable Gardens
Vegetables need a reliable, steady water supply to stay productive. However, even with careful watering, your veggies may suffer from heat stress. The most common signs of heat stress in vegetables are sunburned foliage and fruits (usually yellow and crisp to the touch), blossom and fruit drop, and wilting. There are a few things you can do to help your vegetable garden through a prolonged hot spell:
  • Water regularly and deeply.
  • Mulch the soil with at least three inches of organic mulch to reduce moisture loss and help regulate soil temperature.
  • Shade certain crops, such as leafy greens and lettuces, to slow bolting. They will bolt, no matter what, during periods of intense heat. However, giving them some shade may buy you a couple of days before plant quality is diminished.
Many lawns, including bluegrass, fescues, and ryegrass, naturally go dormant (turn brown and stop growing) during periods of high heat and drought. The easiest thing to do is just let nature take its course. Once temperatures return to normal, and the lawn starts getting adequate moisture, it will green up again.
However, if this is not an option (due to homeowner association bylaws or other issues) you can keep your lawn green by providing at least an inch (up to two inches during high heat) of water, delivered slowly and steadily, per week. Don't just throw the sprinkler out there for an hour -- if the soil is very dry, chances are likely that most of the water you apply will simply run off. Give the lawn a slow, short watering first to let the moisture soak into the soil. Then, later on or the next day, give it a long, deep watering. If you start seeing water running off onto your sidewalks, STOP -- you're just wasting water at that point.
It would also help to avoid cutting the lawn (it's not growing much in the heat anyway) so that you don't stress it further.
Trees and Shrubs
Newly-planted trees and shrubs (less than two years since planting) can be hit particularly hard by heat and drought. To keep them alive and healthy:
  • Give them between two and four inches of water per week during very high temperatures (heat index above 100 degrees) and drought.
  • To water, a long, slow trickle is best. This will allow the water to soak deep into the soil without running off, ensuring that the water is going to the root zone where it is needed.
  • Shrubs can be misted several times per day to increase the ambient moisture -- this will prevent the foliage from drying out too much.

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