As the warm summer weather approaches, the heat begins to stress our outside plants. There are several things one can do to help ease their pain as the temperature begins to rise.
First, one should make sure there is a good layer of mulch around all of your plants. There are many types of mulch such as pine straw, pine bark mulch, or hardwood mulch. All of these work well. Mulch serves several purposes. The most obvious purpose of mulch is to help keep moisture in, but it will also keep the soil temperature cool. Mulch is also great to help keep out the weeds in your flowerbeds. A good rule of thumb is to mulch at least twice a year: early spring and late summer or early fall.
Second, our plants need the right amount of water. When the temperature rises and the rainy days become further and further apart, water becomes very important. Our landscape plants must have water to survive. The best way to see if your plants need water is to pull back some of the mulch and feel the soil. If the soil is wet or moist, the plant should be fine. If the soil feels dry and powdery, the plant probably needs water. When one is watering in dry weather, it is best to water slow and allow the water to soak into the soil. Portable sprinklers are fine, but soaker hoses are even better. Soaker hoses provide the slow watering that the plant needs. If one uses the portable sprinkler, it is best to keep an eye on it or set a timer to remind you to turn the water off or move it.
The automatic sprinkler system is another great way to water your grass and plants. However, one problem we continually see when we call on our customers is the automatic sprinkler’s timer is set wrong. Many people tend to over water. When using an automatic sprinkler system to water a large area such as grass areas with the large spray rotor heads, one should set the run time between twenty to thirty minutes. The areas of smaller sections of grass and flower beds that have smaller spray heads should be set for eight to twelve minutes of run time. The next important thing to look at when using an automatic sprinkler system is to decide how many times a week to water. This all depends on the time of year, the outside temperature, and how much rain we are receiving. Early in the season, two times a week is plenty. As the season continues and the temperature rises, one can increase the watering time to three times a week. The only time your plants will need water every other day is in extreme hot weather with little to no rain. Remember watering too often can promote shallow root growth and create a weak plant.
Next, we need to discuss when to water. The best time to water your plants is in the early morning. Watering late in the day or in the early evening hours could promote fungus. This is due to the cooler temperatures.
Lastly, the best thing one can do is to choose plants that can withstand our hot dry summer weather. Some color plants that tend to do well are verbena, vinca, and lantana. Purslane also does well and is great for pots and hanging baskets.