Source: Katie Drewitz and Adam Austing, University of Minnesota Extension
We seem to have rushed straight into summer the last couple weeks. We have seen heat and very little moisture this year. Your trees, lawn and gardens are likely noticing the lack of rain. There are a few things you can do to provide your plants with water while not compromising their health or root vigor.
For your flowers and vegetables you should water early in the morning. This will allow the plants to take up water before the heat of the day. Night watering is not recommended. Watering at night increases your chances of fungal issues. You may consider using mulch around your plants. Mulch will help retain moisture in the soil as it protects it from the wind and direct sunlight. Mulch has the added bonus of suppressing weeds as well.
To encourage deep root growth it is best to water deeply and less frequently. This is especially important for lawns. If you continually water in small amounts frequently the roots will stay very shallow. If you ever wish to stop watering the roots will not be able to access water and the grass or plant will die. Deeper roots can reach more water. If you are using a sprinkler system be sure to test the system to ensure even watering. You should also consider having your system on manual control versus a set schedule. This will ensure that your lawn is being watered to encourage healthier root growth.
Containers will dry out more readily than in ground gardens. Be sure to test soil moisture on a regular basis. For smaller containers stick your finger in the soil to the second knuckle. Large containers and garden beds should be tested at the 6-inch depth. If the soil is dry, it is time to water. Soil type and plant variations will contribute to how quickly the soil becomes dry and how often watering is required.
Newly planted trees need to be watered daily for the first two weeks, three days a week for next 12 weeks and once a week until the roots are established. You can figure out how long it will take for the roots to establish and how much water your tree needs at each watering by measuring the trunk caliper. For a tree with a caliper less than four inches take the measurement at six inches above the ground. For a tree whose trunk caliper is greater than four inches measure at 12 inches above the ground. For each inch of trunk caliper your tree will take 1.5 years to establish and 1.5 gallons of water at each watering.
For more information on watering wisely you can visit www.extension.umn.edu or reach out to your local Extension Educator. Residents in Wright County can call (763) 682-7381.