All over the country we are experiencing very high temperatures. Rain fall has been spotty at best with many areas in full drought. Keeping the lawn, landscape and garden thriving is still possible without using too much water.
The lawn itself can survive if left dormant. It will turn brown and stop growing. When sufficient rain falls, it will come back green as ever and only a little worse for wear. If this is not preferable you can keep it going with a little special care. It is only necessary that the lawn receive at least 1 inch of water per week. Briefly watering the lawn several times a week is discouraged. One good water is all that is necessary. Use an oscillating sprinkler that puts down the maximum amount of water in the shortest time while losing the least amount to evaporation. Place a can or any container on the lawn and water till there is a least an inch. If possible, water early in the day. Plan to water grass until shade covers, avoid leaving wet grass to dry in full sun. Evening watering is ok if the grass dries before dark to avoid fungus. Delay fertilizing till the weather cools as grass can burn in the hot weather. Keep mowing watered grass, but raise the level on the mower and mow more often to keep your grass longer and to hold more moisture.
The rest of the landscape will slow its growth to survive. Any tree or shrub less than two or three years old will need to be watered. These have not been established enough to have the deep root systems needed to thrive. Do a simple open hose trickle. Lay the hose at the drip-line and let the water slowly run for 2-3 hours. Leave any pruning for later in the year when temperatures moderate. Wait to fertilize here also, fertilizing accelerates growth and this can cause issues if there are in harsh weather conditions. Leave planting and transplanting for later in the year as well.
You may want to do the same in the garden. Use the same techniques as outlined above for watering the lawn. Of course, watering the lawn at my home, also includes watering the garden. Avoid fertilizing until temperatures moderate here as well. Container flowers and vegetables will need daily thorough watering. They have less soil to hold moisture and will dry out quickly. Their root systems are also shallow and need much more water. Do keep up with the weeding, as unfortunately weeds seem thrive no matter the weather.
Do try to complete your yard work early in the day. This is easier on both the gardener and the landscape. Pick vegetables that are perhaps a bit under grown. Tomatoes left too long on the vine in extreme temperatures can split. Most vegetables will ripen just fine on your home counter. Take notice of any perennials that seem to be especially stressed during these hot spells. It may be a good idea to move these in the fall to more shady spots.
Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago