Wouldn’t it be a perfect gardener’s world if rain would materialize every three days and only at night? Instead, we are faced with either one extreme or the other. In April, although chilly, it rained every few days. In May, it rained periodically. In June, It seemed as though it rained every day. Then July came. The first half was generally rainy but the second half started our dry season and it has continued into August until this week when we’ve had light rain that barely wets the surface of the soil. Don’t be deceived. Hot, dry summer weather will return this weekend and there’s a lot of growing time left.
Our poor plants are suffering! Irrigation helps our plants survive but it is not the same as a steady rain. I look at my poor hydrangeas that are as limp as can be. Around the city, I see large old trees turning brown and hope that they’re merely going dormant early and not dying. I also see shrubs starting to show their autumn colors, a sure sign of stress.
Right now, the ground is hard as a rock. What can you do? If there’s no rain, water your landscapes once every three days, not with a hose sprayer that merely wets the leaves but with a sprinkler or hose set to the slowest drip possible so that the water soaks in instead of running off. Once the ground is moist, mulch to a depth of one to two inches with a shredded hardwood bark to help keep the moisture in. Just make sure that you don’t put the mulch too close to tree trunks or plant crowns. No volcano mulching, please!
If you don’t have a birdbath, put out a bowl of water from which birds and butterflies can drink and bathe. They get thirsty too.
Your landscapes still have lots to give. Many perennials and ornamental grasses have not yet bloomed. Help them continue to put on a show.