After a relatively mild summer, the heat has descended upon the Midwest with a vengeance. Even though October is less than a week away, we have been in the grips of a horrible heat wave. Usually with this much heat, we get a lot of rain. Unfortunately, even before this heat came in, we had not had a decent rainstorm for weeks. It seems the hurricanes bashing the southeast has pushed the heat up here and sucked every bit of moisture out of the atmosphere. By the time you read this, the temperatures may be down, but the drought conditions will still be here. At this time of year, sufficient water is crucial.
First, let’s look at the lawn. Lawns are very resilient. If you like, you can just let the lawn go dormant. It will become brown and dry; growth will stop. The lawn will remain dormant until it receives sufficient water to green and grow again. If the thought of this horrifies you, it will need a lot of water. If you live in Chicago, no problem here. If you live elsewhere and pay for water by usage, dormancy might be your best bet. Check your village website for watering restrictions. In any event, always water as early as possible. If you must water later, always water until the lawn is completely out of direct sun. Make sure to water each section for at least an hour. Use a brass impact pulsating sprinkler (these are the ones you see on golf courses). They keep the water directed and low to the ground and can be set for any size area.
Most older plantings will get through a short drought without too much trouble, but anything in the ground less than three years needs special attention. A trickling hose is best. Move it around the plant going around the dripline (the ring around the tree or plant that is the edge of the leaves). Take your time and water for at least 60-90 minutes.This is much cheaper than buying new shrubs and trees. They need sufficient water to get through the winter. If the snowfall is not great, as it has not been for two years now, we could have many trees and shrubs not surviving the winter.
The garden can be hand watered or watered with the lawn. That is one benefit of this heat wave, I think my tomato season will be extended a few weeks at least! I’ll be making sauce next week for sure!
KATHY WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO