Are your lawn and plants crying “uncle”? There are things you can do to mitigate the potential damage to your landscape.
According to Georgia Climatologist David Stooksbury, summer is expected to be warmer and drier than normal over most of Georgia. He says the state’s drought conditions contribute to the above-normal temperatures and dry soils, meaning that more energy from the sun heats the soil and the air above it.
According to several landscape industry specialists, homeowners who embrace water-smart concepts that promote efficient watering can save water and money.
“In addition to conserving water, proper watering also will keep your landscape plants healthy and beautiful throughout the year,” said Buckhead resident Teddy Russell, of Russell Landscape Group. “A water-smart landscape doesn’t mean giving up your lawn or making dramatic changes to your landscape or lifestyle.”
Russell added, “There are many simple ways to be a good conservationist and enhance the environment, and being a water-smart gardener helps you achieve these goals.”
Some experts estimate that up to one-half of the water used to irrigate landscapes is wasted due to evaporation, wind or runoff caused by poorly adjusted sprinklers, improper design or overwatering.
A simple solution, they said, is to water in the morning when the wind is calm and the temperature is cool.
When you water your lawn, adjust your sprinkler to prevent watering the sidewalk. Consider replacing your conventional spray head with a high-efficiency nozzle to distribute water more evenly.
And rain or moisture sensors can be used to override an irrigation controller to turn off the system when it detects rainfall or the presence of moisture in the soil.
Rainwater harvesting also can be effective, said Pat Magee, owner of Brookhaven Rain Barrels. Collecting just one inch of rainfall on an average roof can yield more than 500 gallons of reusable water, according to the Irrigation Association.
As you control the water supply, know the water requirements of the different plants in your landscape.
“Trees are the highest priority, because they’re virtually impossible to replace in our lifetime,” said Sandy Springs resident Eric King, of King Landscaping. “Many grasses will come back, or you can re-seed them in the fall.”
How do you know if a tree is stressed? “If a tree drops its leaves prematurely, it has a good shot at recovery,” King said. “When the leaves turn brown and stay on the tree, it often means the tree is dead. Watch for signs of stress, and water those areas deeply. Monitor what’s going on in your yard and adjust accordingly.”
King said homeowners who have installed new retaining walls or patios will most likely want to do some minimal plantings to stabilize them.
“I would recommend delaying as much planting as you can until fall,” King said. “Plants do better when they have cooler and wetter weather in which to put down roots.”