Drought Tolerant Plants
Drought tolerant plants are those that do not typically require supplemental water after establishment which usually occurs 2-3 seasons after planting. This would not apply during prolonged dry spells.
Water Smart Plants
Water Smart plants can withstand long periods without supplemental water but will need deep watering during prolonged hot and dry conditions.
Tree Watering Needs
- Trees typically need 10 gallons of water for every inch of trunk diameter
- Water trees 1 or 2 times per week when conditions are hot and dry (June – August)
- Set up a drip irrigation line (look for a bubbler hose!) that spirals around the circumference of the tree's dripline to ensure that you are targeting the roots.
- Think of a tree's dripline as an umbrella, where water would roll off an umbrella is where the dripline is located.
- Avoid watering at the base of the tree as it can cause rot!
- Purchase a slow-release watering bag. These are great for establishing young trees. Simply fill the bag and know that water is being released into the root zone over several hours.
- Trees that were planted within the last year are not yet established.
- Irrigate new trees by using drip irrigation equipment such as bubblers or a root zone watering system. Too expensive? Build a basin around the tree and fill that with water weekly instead making sure to avoid the trunk to prevent rot.
- Keep the root ball and surrounding area of a new tree evenly moist to encourage healthy root growth. This may require you to water up to twice per week in the hottest part of summer! It is important that roots have a chance to dry out between waterings.
Cutting the Grass
Ready to fire up your lawnmower for the season? Take a second to learn a few tips on how to keep your lawn healthy and looking good!
- Cut grass no more than a third of its height at a time - removing more than that risks sending a plant into shock, inhibiting healthy growth and causing discoloration.
- Remove excessive grass clippings to prevent smothering the grass beneath. Bonus - once the clippings are dry, you can add them to your compost pile!
- In spring set your mow deck to its lowest setting and raise it one level each week until you can maintain your grass at about 3" - this will allow grass to better retain moisture in the summertime. In the fall do the opposite, lower your mow deck one level until your grass is only 1.5" going into the winter to prevent against winter disease (like snow mold!).
- Grass and trees compete for water and soil nutrients. Add a ring of organic mulch, shaped into a saucer about 3” thick, to protect trees from mower damage and encourage healthy growth.
Mitigating Snow Mold
Snow mold is a type of fungus that appears as yellow-green patches a few inches in diameter on the lawn as snow melts in late winter, eventually growing in size and becoming a grey-white or a pinkish-white color. This fungus can cause extensive damage to your lawn and may rot grass crowns if it is a serious infection. Snow mold infects lawns only at colder temperatures (30 - 45 degrees) and when there is continuous snow cover over more than 60 days. Take these steps to help minimize snow mold affecting your lawn:
- Don't apply a heavy nitrogen fertilizer in the fall.
- Rake fallen leaves from the grass.
- Lower your grass height to 1.5" going into winter.
Core Aeration and Thatch Control
Thatch is a tightly meshed layer of partly decomposed stems and roots that develop between grass blades and the soil surface. Thatch that is well-managed and is no more than half an inch thick is healthy for your lawn - it promotes the breakdown of nutrients via microbes, moderates temperature, and allows water to reach plant roots with less evaporation. However, there can be too much of a good thing! Thatch that is more than half an inch thick can cause the following:
- Limits rooting into the soil causing water and nutrient deficiencies.
- Creates an environment for harmful insects and pathogens.
- Hydrophobic grass (repels water) when dry.
The only true way to manage thatch that is more than a half inch in depth is to core aerate every year until it is reduced. Core aeration removes cores of sod from the lawn and opens up the lawn for more air and water movement, which creates a better environment for microbes to break down the remaining thatch. Plan to have your lawn core aerated in the spring or fall when your grass is actively growing!
Benefits of Mulch
- Apply 2-4 inches of mulch around trees to reduce moisture loss, encourage tree growth, and reduce competition with weeds
- For newly planted trees, do not mulch over the root ball (close to the trunk). The mulch ring should be 2 to 4 feet wide up to the width of the dripline (edge of the branches or leaf canopy).
- For established trees, mulch should be kept back 6 inches from the trunk.
- Place two inches of mulch around shrubs to reduce moisture loss, encourage tree growth, and reduce competition with weeds.