Twice already this year we have sounded the alarm about abnormally hot and dry weather, and the need to water your plants and turf.  And now we’re sounding it again, but even louder!

The 2012 growing season here in Mid-Michigan  is shaping up to be a brutal one for those of us in the Green Industry.  Things started out with record high temperatures in March, which were followed by several hard frosts, and now sustained drought conditions.

As recently reported in the Midland Daily News, the Department of Agriculture announced a disaster declaration for 72 counties throughout Michigan, including Midland, due to crop damage incurred from the extreme conditions and projected continuation of excessively dry weather.

Also, as noted in Michigan drought update for July 12, 2012, the magnitude of heat and dryness across southern Michigan and much of the central and eastern Corn Belt region to our south has not been observed since the “Great Drought of 1988”.

And here in the Tri-Cities it’s so dry that we are losing 2-2.5” inches of moisture weekly from the soil due to evaporation and transpiration (evapo-transpiration).  With no relief in sight for our area in the near future, it’s only going to get worse.

Here’s what we’re recommending for our landscape clients

In terms of landscaping, it’s important to understand that trees, shrubs, perennials and lawns installed within the past year are EXTREMELY VULNERABLE in these hot and dry conditions.

What are some good watering guidelines?  Newly planted lawns, bedding plants, shrubs and trees need to be watered to the depth of the plant’s root system every week during the growing season of its first year.  In other words, for new turf and bedding plants this means watering to a depth of 4-5”, for shrubs to a depth of 12-18”, and for trees 18-24” deep.  These guidelines are also good for established plants during dry times like these.

In addition to these guidelines, it’s also a good idea during this drought to frequently check your plants for wilting, as well as monitoring the soil to make sure it hasn’t dried out.  If you find wilting or that the soil around your plants is excessively dry, soak immediately.

If you have an irrigation system we’re now recommending that you double your normal watering rates and assess your lawn on a weekly basis.  This is what we’re doing for our clients with a mid-season irrigation check.  In fact, in some extreme cases, such as very sandy soils along adjoining wood lines, we’re even tripling the watering rate.

If you have any questions about proper care and watering for your landscape during this drought, email us or call.  We’d be happy to talk with you or email you a PDF with our watering recommendations.

As we progress through this summer we’ll continue to post relevant updates or changes on these drought conditions.  And whatever you do, get out there and WATER YOUR PLANTS AND LAWN!