August heat calls for water-wise tips


Forgive me while I state the obvious.

Louisiana is darn hot in August.

And, unless your yard is lucky enough to be directly underneath a pop-up thunderstorm, it’s dry.

While most gardeners can retreat to a cool house, our plants are prisoners to the heat.

Time to get an irrigation routine going.

Whether your system is a state-of-the-art professionally installed set-up or a water hose you drag around the yard, it will probably be getting plenty of use for the next couple of months, so I thought I’d consult the LSU AgCenter Web site for some tips on efficient watering. Here’s a bit of what the experts say:

  • When irrigating a lawn, wet the soil to a depth of 5 inches. The amount of water it will take to achieve this depends on the soil type and how dry it has been. For instance, it may take only a half inch of water to wet a sandy soil to 5 inches, but an inch and a half to do the same thing on a clay soil. How do you know how deeply you’ve watered? Push a shovel into the soil, spread the hole and take a look.
  • Try to schedule irrigation from 4 to 8 a.m. — better invest in a timer — because less water is lost to evaporation during that period. Avoid evening watering to prevent diseases.
  • Irrigation frequency depends on a multitude of factors, but it’s best to keep the intervals as long as possible. If grass wilts, looks more gray- or blue-green than usual, or holds “footprints” after you walk across it, cue the sprinkler.
  • Newly planted trees and shrubs require watering at least once a week during dry weather. The same goes for annual and perennial flowers. But don’t just give them a quick shower. Make sure they are thoroughly watered to encourage deep roots. That’s where drip irrigation or soaker hoses come in handy since they apply water slowly enough to allow it to penetrate the soil. Trees benefit from allowing a hose to trickle slowly near their trunk for about a half hour.
  • Be sure to mulch since the AgCenter says doing so reduces water demand by up to 40 percent.
  • Yank the weeds. You want the precious water you apply to go to your prized petunias, not the crabgrass.
  • Check container plants daily to see if they need moisture. Chances are they will, since container plantings dry out quicker than those in the ground. Consider moving pots in full sun to a slightly shadier location.

And here’s my suggestion: Pray for rain!

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