This time of year, working in the garden can be nearly impossible at any time except early morning. As much as possible, work some morning garden grooming into your schedule.
When the mercury rises, plants struggle to stay hydrated. Providing plants with adequate moisture ensures more than seasonal good looks -- it's a key to long-term health. Try these tips to make the most of your irrigation efforts:
For most non-drought tolerant trees and shrubs, provide a deep watering every 10 to 14 days. This means wetting the soil to at least 8 inches deep. Dig down to see how far moisture is soaking in, or simply slip a screwdriver into soil. In moist soil, the blade will slide easily.
The best times to water are early morning or early evening. If you water during the heat of the day, you lose more moisture to evaporation, instead of soaking soil.
Keep a close eye on gardens very near or directly under mature trees, especially shallow-rooted species such as maples and poplars. The trees' large root systems absorb the majority of water from the soil.
During the heat of the summer, it can be tough to keep up with container gardens. Set up a drip-irrigation system; it's an easy, inexpensive weekend project that will save you a lot of time and effort over the course of the season.
Pay attention to automated irrigation systems while they're running. Look for sprinkler heads that aren't working properly or are misdirected, watering streets, sidewalks, or driveways.
For vegetable gardens or planting beds, consider installing soaker hoses, which deliver water directly to soil.
Continued on page 2: Wildlife in the July Garden