We are officially in my least favorite part of summer – it is hot and dry out there, with still more to come before the cooler weather of fall. While we were fortunate to have quite a bit of rain in June, that seems to have slowed down. It’s important that homeowners pay attention to the weather, temperatures, and rainfall in order to water landscapes properly.
Plants are like Goldilocks- they like to get just enough water; not too much, nor too little. To avoid under or overwatering your landscape, it can be useful to track how much rain we’re getting by keeping an eye on weather apps or the Georgia Weather Network. Generally, established plants need an inch of water per week to stay healthy at temperatures below 80 degrees. When that temperature climbs, water needs increase. New plants need extra water to establish their root systems and survive, especially during our summer heat. Summer rainfall can come is heavy downpours over short periods of time, which makes it difficult for the soil to absorb the water properly. If you’re wondering if your plants need water, it’s best to dig down a few inches and see if the soil is moist- if it’s dry, they need to be watered. While watering enough is important, we have more calls at the Extension office about plants who have been watered too much. Too much water can cause root rot, plant death, and high-water bills.
If you’re going to water plants, we recommend doing so early in the morning, or late in the evening. A popular method of watering is by hand using a watering can or hose. Watering cans may be more appropriate if you’re only watering a few plants; while soaker hoses can deliver water over a larger area. Sprinklers can be used to water larger areas as well, but there is increase water loss from evaporation with sprinklers. In addition, watering with sprinklers increases the risk of leaf spot and other foliar diseases, so they should only be used first thing in the morning. Irrigation systems such as micro emitters or drip lines can be very efficient ways of delivering water to plant roots, but they should be set on specific zones and timers to ensure they’re only on when they have to be. Each type of watering system has some benefits and downsides, so choose the option that makes the most sense for you.
One final recommendation is to mulch around your plants. Mulch helps provide protection from trimmers and lawnmowers and also reduces soil erosion, reduces weed growth, keeps soil and plant roots cool, and helps hold moisture in the ground. Organic mulch composed of wood chips and decomposable materials is always preferable over rubber or synthetic mulches, but may require the addition of new material once in a while to maintain it’s benefits.
As you enjoy summer, it’s essential to consider the water needs of your plants. Providing the right amount of water at the right time will keep your landscape healthy and beautiful for years to come. If you need help with plants, please contact us at uge3181@uga.edu or 706-359-3233.

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