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Summertime in the Northwest- What to do During a Summer Drought
Don't let your landscape die during the drought and use irrigation water wisely...
While there hasn't been a state of drought emergency this year, or very much restriction on water, the rivers and streams are still very low and we should all actively try to conserve water.
Most garden plants like about an inch of moisture per week so it is still important to water them during drought. It is better to apply water weekly or every other week as opposed to daily. Watering plants more frequently discourages roots from growing deeply into the soil (where it stays moist longer) and it is also inefficient as more water is lost to evaporation.
Applying a 2 to 3 inch deep layer of mulch over the soil can keep the soil cooler and shields the ground from direct sun. The benefit to this is that moisture stays in the soil longer, where it is more available to your plants. Running a soaker hose underneath the mulch is the best way to maximize your water savings. Water will be delivered directly to the ground (reducing evaporation) and slowly reducing water loss to runoff. It will also keep plant foliage dry, which helps prevent many common fungal diseases.
Other ways to increase the water that gets to your plants when plantings are new or when planting in raised platers, which require frequent watering, is by planting them with moisture tablets or solutions, which trap the water from the soil and air to give to the plants roots. Also there is a mycorrhizal fungi that is more effective in nutrient and water absorption than the roots themselves. Mycorrhizae grows off of the plants roots expanding the root system to get both more water and nutrients for the plant.
It is best to stop fertilizing at the onset of a drought as fertilizers encourage plants to grow which increases the amount of moisture the plant needs. Pulling weeds is also very important during drought, with the limited moisture you want all that you can get to go to your plants, not weeds.
Another helpful hint for your irrigation system- set up programs where smoking takes place or high traffic areas near bus stops or at storefronts where fires may spark. Run the irrigation multiple times per day for a few minutes to reduce the risk of accidental landscape fires.
For more information on using less water in your landscape check out some of our other blogs: "Save water, money, and time with the correct irrigation system components" or "Save Water and Money By Changing Up Your Landscape!" You can also contact us today for a free estimate as we at Whirlwind would love to help you save water and protect your investment!