While weather conditions vary from year to year, most regions will experience a period of hot, dry weather. If you have a well-established landscape and potential dry spells and water restrictions have you worried, there are several things you can do to help your garden before your plants start to become stressed.
1. Start with Good Soil
Your plants want to dig their roots into a loose, nutrient-rich well-drained soil. Sandy soils let water and nutrients drain too quickly. Clay soils harden in droughts and don't absorb moisture well. Improve your existing soil by mixing in 3 inches of Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil with the top 6 inches of your existing soil. This will make it easier for roots to penetrate further into the soil, and deeper, more expansive root systems are better able to seek out water and nutrients, for healthier, more drought-resistant plants.
2. Protect with Mulch
After you've achieved a loose, nutrient-rich soil, top it off with a 3-inch layer of mulch, such as Scotts® Nature Scapes® Color Enhanced Mulch. Mulch helps keep moisture from evaporating from the soil, helps moderate soil temperature, and helps
prevent weeds, which compete with plants for water and nutrients, by blocking growth and access to sunlight. Apply a granular garden weed preventer like Miracle Gro® Garden Weed Preventer as an additional line of defense against greedy weeds.
3. Let the Plants be Your Water Guide
When to Water
Water conservation becomes increasingly important during prolonged dry spells and times of imposed watering restrictions. While healthy, established trees and shrubs can survive for several weeks without water, tender annual and perennial plants will need to be watered more often. Let your plants tell you when it's time to water - in most cases, when they start to wilt, it is time to water.
How to Water
Good watering practices use methods that water slowly and deeply. Soaker hoses or a trickling hose at the base of the plant are good options that allow water to be absorbed deep into the soil. The goal is to deliver an adequate amount of water directly to the soil and plant roots, rather than plant leaves. Applying 1/2 - inch of water twice per week is typically sufficient. Remember, water should be applied to the entire root zone of the plant which can extend beyond the visible plant. Watering in the morning or early evening, rather than mid - day, helps reduce water loss from evaporation.
4. Don't Forget to Feed
It is important to properly feed plants leading up to hot, dry weather conditions because healthy, nourished plants can better withstand prolonged periods of heat and drought. However, plant food should never be applied to water-stressed plants. You can resume feeding once the plant is no longer under water stress. And when you connect Miracle-Gro® LiquaFeed® to your garden hose or add Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food to your watering can, you can feed and water at the same time.
5. Rainwater to the Rescue
Learn some simple, affordable methods of rainwater harvesting, such as barrels and trenches, and you can stretch out Mother Nature's supply longer so your plants will be less taxed during dry spells. Read our article "Harvesting Rainwater" to learn how to make the most of the rainfall you receive.