There's so much more to a great yard than just mowing the lawn.

Don’t Get Behind on Watering

It finally happened. The Seattle weather became Arizona weather practically overnight. Yesterday I noticed my lawn developing brown patches and my grape vines leaves were drooping.

You gotta love Colorado.

My key message for today is to be proactive in watering your landscape during the weather transition. With such bountiful rainfall this summer, it can take a while for us humans to mentally catch up to the reality that it’s hot and dry.

Here’s why it’s important to water proactively.

The transition from cool, moist weather to hot, dry conditions can be really hard on some plants. The moderate temperature and ample moisture caused many plants to put on more new growth than they normally would. They’re adapted to take advantage of the “good times.”

During this wet period, it made a lot of sense for homeowners to stop watering. Plants got all the moisture then needed from rain. Pausing outdoor watering conserved our precious resource and lowered our water bills.

The downside is that when the soil moisture runs out, lush growth can cause plants to crash. A lot of large leaves means plants will require a significant amount water. When there’s not enough moisture to meet their needs, they will wilt, suffer die back, and may ultimately… die.

My recommendation

Thank goodness we can give our plants water when Mother Nature doesn’t. To help your plants withstand this transition, here’s what I recommend.

Start with a normal watering schedule for August and watch your plants to see if it’s enough. If it’s not, add in an extra watering day each week.

What’s a normal watering schedule?

At this time of year, most lawns need to be watered three times per week. Most trees, shrubs and other landscape plants also need regular watering, but depending on their water needs, once to twice per week may be sufficient. I’d start with that frequency.

How can you tell if it’s enough?

If it’s not enough, you’ll first notice your plants will wilt and your lawn will turn a grey-green color. If they still get don’t water, branches will die from the tips first, progressing to the center of the plant. Your lawn may develop brown patches or the entire thing will turn straw-colored.

wilting peony

Notice the drooping leaves on this peony. Now that it is beginning to wilt it’s important to water it soon.

If they still don’t get water, they may reach the “permanent wilting point.” Once a plant reaches that stage, no matter how much water you give it, it is going to die. We don’t want our plants to die because we didn’t snap out of fantasy land soon enough.

Do they need more water than normal? 

Keep in mind your plants’ water needs are greater this year because of the extra growth. If you see wilt or browning, you might want to add an extra watering day in the week temporarily.

Although it’s important to use water wisely, it’s okay to give them extra water then slowly wean them down to a normal schedule. This strategy will take less watering compared to overwatering to water to make up for waiting too long to water in the first place.

So turn on those sprinkler and get to watering your landscape. Welcome back to Colorado.

2 Responses to Don’t Get Behind on Watering

  1. Joe Dixon July 24, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Good insights, Catherine. Ironic, isn’t it, that lush growth can make our plants more fragile.

    • Catherine July 24, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

      I agree. I appreciate your comment, especially coming from an irrigation expert!

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