Around Chicago, we are definitely below our usual rain amounts. After a record spring for rain, the last month or so has been very dry.
Temperatures have also been quite high, usually in the 90s. Now with those high temperatures, you will get a blow-up storm or two, but these are few and far between. Even if you are lucky enough to get some rain from one of these much of the rain will run off, as the soil is too dry to absorb much quickly.
So, we will need to supply water for our landscape and garden. You may choose to let the lawn go dormant, especially if your lawn is exceptionally large. The grass will come back fine with sufficient rain and cooler temperatures. If you do decide to water, do so early in the day. Watering during the day’s peak heat is not recommended, and late watering can encourage disease if the lawn is wet overnight. An oscillating sprinkler is best as it puts down water quickly and lower. Put out an empty can and water till it reaches an inch. This is necessary every week. Overlap to make sure you do not miss any spots. Water deeply once a week for good root growth. Too frequent watering results in short roots.
The garden is similar but will need watering more often. Vegetables are annuals and will not have long roots. You will need to water your veggies at least every third day when temperatures are high. Most vegetables need sufficient water, although some peppers will do with less. Hand watering is fine but do so thoroughly. Soaker hoses work great, putting down water right at the soil. Annual flowers in pots also have short roots, so water every other day. Hanging baskets have little soil to hold moisture, so again, water every day.
Well established trees and shrubs (more than three years old) should be fine waiting out the dry spell, but younger plantings need attention. The best method here is the slow trickle. Lay an open hose between the drip line and the trunk or main stem. The drip line is the outermost reach the branches extend. This will also be the reach of the roots. Turn on the hose until the water just comes out the end—water for two hours minimum.
With a little help, all the plants in our landscape will come through this with flying colors. From the trees and bushes to the grass and the garden, a little care is all it takes.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO