Straw-like grass? Droopy flowers? Chalet’s Garden Expert Offers Top Watering Tips for Summer
This dry, hot summer has many people scratching their heads over scorched lawns and wilting plants. Tony Fulmer, horticulturist at Chalet Landscape, Nursery and Garden Center in Wilmette, Ill, shares his advice for watering your lawn, gardens, containers, trees and shrubs during our area’s moderate drought.
What: The way you water often depends on what you’re watering. Plants with large, soft leaves like hydrangea, those that are deciduous (or lose their leaves) and plants in sandy or unmulched soils and others growing in afternoon sun require more frequent watering. Plants that require less frequent watering include those growing in partial shade or clay or mulched soils, evergreens and plants with gray or fuzzy leaves.
When: Fulmer says timing is everything. For best results, he recommends getting started bright and early in the day.
“By the time a plant is drooping from lack of water, roots have been stressed and growth potential has been lost,” Fulmer says.
He also recommends watering trees, shrubs and some hardy plants deeply and infrequently, rather than dampening surfaces daily or every other day. Exceptions include newly-planted annuals, perennials and vegetables with small root systems that can dry out quickly.
How: For newly-planted or newly-transplanted landscape plants, Fulmer emphasizes the importance of applying enough water to moisten the entire root system, from side to side and top to bottom.
“A good analogy is that a new transplant is like an intensive care patient: both should be checked on frequently in hot, windy, dry conditions,” he says.
How much: Most plants will need the equivalent of one inch of rain or moisture per week at an air temperature of 75 degrees, and for each additional 10 degrees, add a half inch of water.
Why: Watering, of course, ensures the health and viability of trees, shrubs and plants. In addition to watering correctly and regularly, Fulmer suggests the use of organic mulches.
“Mulched soils stay cooler in hot and dry conditions and don’t give up moisture to the air as readily, meaning you don’t have to water them as often,” he says. When mulching, take care to mulch the roots and not the plants’ stems.
If your lawn has an irrigation system, make sure it’s calibrated, so you know how much it’s delivering to plants.
“Whenever possible, set it to go off late at night or early in the morning, so leaves are drying as the sun comes up,” he says. “That’s better than having them sit wet all night in humid weather, which invites fungal diseases.”
Get a more detailed “refresher course” on watering with a free, 90-minute lecture on “Watering Simplified.” Learn why, how, when and how much water to give plants when Mother Nature falls short. The lecture is Thursday, July 19 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and again on Friday, July 20 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Lectures are held in theChalet Education Center, 3132 Lake Ave. in Wilmette.
For more information on caring for your lawn and garden this season, call 847-256-0561 or visitwww.ChaletNursery.com.