Summer in Georgia is always an interesting time of year. It seems we go from one extreme to another. Just a few weeks ago, we were relatively cool and had what seemed to be plenty of moisture in the ground. But today, we are in desperate need of some rain, and if shade was a commodity that could be sold on the open market, it would be going for a hefty price.
So as we try to keep ourselves cool in this heat, don't forget to pay attention to your landscape. For most established plants, little irrigation is needed to get them through this dry, hot weather.
One thing that you can do is to provide a good layer of mulch around them. A 2-to-3-inch layer of mulch not only makes things look good in your landscape, but also provides a bit of insulation between the heat and the soil and plant roots. Mulch also conserves moisture and cuts down on the weeds.
On newly planted landscapes that are trying to become established, irrigation is going to be something that you are probably going to have to do from time to time. The roots of these plants are not well established and have not explored the soil for moisture.
When you 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 when you have provided the plants with what they need.
Apply that 1 inch of water at one time. A deep thorough watering is much more beneficial for the plants than giving them 15 to 20 minutes of water every day.
When you can, concentrate the water at the roots of the plants by using drip tape or soaker hoses in your landscape. Also irrigate between the hours of 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. Doing so will not only allow you to be more efficient, but will also reduce your chances of diseases.
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.
Also, draw out your landscape into sections of water use. Cluster plants that require little supplemental watering together, and then put those plants that require 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, go to http://www.conservewatergeorgia.net.
Michael Wheeler is the Hall County Extension Office coordinator.