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Beat the heat in the garden
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Summer in Georgia is always an interesting time of year. It seems we go from one extreme to another.

Even though we are enjoying plenty of rain now, we always seem to be a few weeks from a drought. With the heat and humidity, we lose a lot of water on a daily basis.

Water loss is from evaporation from the lake and land, and from transpiration from the plants as they use water to carry out their functions. 

Even though we don’t need to irrigate now because we have been getting plenty of rain, keep in mind these few things if we turn into a dry summer.

Mulch

For most established plants, a little irrigation is needed to get them through dry, hot weather. One thing to do is provide a good layer of mulch. A 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch not only makes things look good in your landscape, but provides a bit of insulation between the heat and the soil and plant roots. Mulch also conserves moisture and cuts down on the weeds.

Irrigation

On newly planted landscapes trying to become established, irrigation is something you are probably going to have to do from time to time if it does not rain. The roots of these plants are not well established and have not explored the soil for moisture. So, when you do water, do it wisely. Most landscapes, including turf, only require an inch of water per week.

Invest in a rain gauge to measure how much water you are applying to the landscape at a time. This will help you know you have provided the plants with the necessities.

If you can, apply 1 inch of water at one time. A deep thorough watering is more beneficial for the plants than giving them 15-20 minutes of water every day.

When you can, concentrate the water at the roots by using drip tape or soaker hoses in your landscape.

Irrigate between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. Doing so will not only allow you to be more efficient, but will reduce your chances of diseases.

Native plants

If you are in the middle of renovating your landscape, use native plants as much as you can. Natives are adapted to the weather conditions and moisture patterns of the area. Once they are established, they become fairly low maintenance and worry free.

Landscape plan

Draw your landscape into sections of water use. Cluster plants requiring little supplemental watering together and put plants requiring a little more water together. This planning will concentrate your watering efforts in one or two places.

These are just a few ideas to help you become water wise and a good steward of the water we have.

For more information, visit www.watersmart.net.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, ugaextension.org/county-offices/hall.html. His column appears biweekly and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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