Caring for Plants in Summer
Plants are resilient and have mechanisms that help them deal with summer heat. For instance, grass may go dormant and look brown during times of drought, but, if it is well cared for, it may return to normal when there is adequate moisture.
However, plants will fare better if you give them some help-especially if weather conditions are outside the historical norms for your region. If you are unsure
about how to properly care for your lawn and landscape, consult a professional.
If you are experiencing long periods of excessive heat or drought conditions,
think about giving your plants extra care. Following are some tips for dealing with
extreme heat or drought:
• Water your plants less often, but deeply.
• You have heard it before, but it is true — water in the early morning or evening
hours so the sun and heat don’t steal moisture from your plants.
• Use drip irrigation instead of sprinklers and hoses. Drip irrigation waters plants
slowly so the water doesn’t run off or evaporate.
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• Mulch around trees and plants with 2 to 3 inches of bagged mulch or yard
scraps such as grass clippings, straw, or shredded leaves. Mulch not only
looks tidy and keeps weeds from growing, but it also forms a protective
layer to help retain moisture, lowers soil temperature, and adds nutrients
to the soil as it breaks down.
• Ensure that your grass has adequate food and nutrients (fertilizer).
• Have your lawn aerated to improve oxygen flow and check the soil pH balance
to ensure the healthiest grass.
• Remove weeds from grass as they steal nutrients.
• Water potted plants more often to ensure the soil stays moist. They are more
susceptible to heat than plants in the ground because their roots can’t
grow as deep. If temperatures are extreme, you may need to water them
more than once a day.
• Mulch! Most people don’t think about mulching container plants, but it helps
them retain moisture just like it helps plants in the yard.
• Place them in spots where they get some shade during the heat of the day.
• Add some clay soil to the pots because clay retains more moisture than sandy
• Line clay pots with trash bags before installing plants to help them retain water.
The pots are porous and lose moisture.
• Fertilize regularly. Plants that are well-fed and have the proper nutrients will be
stronger and more able to fight drought conditions.
• Consider a container drip irrigation system. There are some available that
connect to a timer and your hose bib. This is particularly useful if you plan
to go away for more than a day during the hot summer months.
You can help your yard win the battle with drought by choosing the right plants
to begin with. Plants that are native to your region, will be best adapted to your
weather conditions and will need less water. Even if you choose natives, be
sure those natives are listed as drought tolerant since even some natives prefer
wetter conditions. You can also choose drought-resistant or low-water plants and
turf varieties. Ask your landscape professional or ask at the local nursery when
selecting new plants.