We Clevelanders are in the midst of a record-setting drought with no relief in sight. The fact that we are not alone (2/3’s of the country is also suffering) doesn’t offer any solace.
I do have a few words of advice for coping with the situation. First, mulch your beds with a good, shredded, hardwood bark that will eventually decompose and improve your soil. Two of the best ones I’ve found are Black Satin and Black Gold. Along with retaining moisture, mulching reduces the need for weeding, deters erosion, enriches soil, protects soil structure, increases microbial activity, and stabilizes soil temperatures. Keep in mind, however, that more is not better. Two inches is all you need and keep the mulch away from the crowns of perennials and tree trunks to avoid creating conditions that encourage disease.
Lawns are looking brown even with irrigation because of the stress of these never ending high temperatures. Consider reducing the amount of lawn or converting to low water use grasses. Many home owners are in a constant battle with Mother Nature, trying to grow grass in shady areas. An alternative is the use of Liriope spicata, a perennial grass that only gro
If you have a sunny dry area that does not need to be pristine, think about creating a meadow look with Schizachrium scoparium (Little Bluestem) and Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Grama) or B.curtipendula (Sideoats Grama). Schizachrium has blue-green foliage, grows two to three feet high, turns beautiful shades of burgundy and blue in the fall and orange in the winter.
Bouteloua curtipendula, a dense clumper, has narrow, bluish-gray foliage that grows 1-1.5′ tall. It’s foliage turns golden brown in autumn, sometimes also developing interesting hues of orange and red. The inflorescences of purplish-tinged flowers appear on arching stems above the foliage in early to mid summer, bringing the total height of the clump to 3′.
Bouteloua gracilis is similar but smaller. The gray-green foliage grows 12-16” high and in bloom is still only 20” high. Since these grasses are very drought tolerant once established, they will lower water consumption considerably and lower maintenance costs because they only need to be mowed annually.
Collect rain water from house gutters in rain barrels when we are lucky enough to get occasional thunderstorms and use it for watering your plants. Some rain barrels are not totally round and thus fit more easily against a house wall.
There have been several days this summer when the sky is cloudy and the forecast calls for rain but most of the time, it’s nothing but “promises, promises”.