33 August 25, 2010

It may not have been nice to see the rain but we do desperately need the rain. In the last week, we have had so many people come into the store seeking help with drought-related problems on their plants. For so many gardeners, the rain could not have arrived at a better time.

A dry summer brings up extra work for many gardeners. They watered the vegetable gardens and all of the annual flower bed and planters. The perennial beds probably got some water too. But many people did not have a chance to water the trees, shrubs and the lawn. This does not bode well for the trees, shrubs and lawns. Let me discuss each of these separately and set up a plan for you to deal with the lack of water on these segments of the garden.

If you did not have an irrigation system, your lawn probably turned brown this summer from lack of water. Most of you would assume that the lawn turning brown was from the lack of water. In reality, this could be a problem caused by chinch bugs. Chinch bugs thrive in hot and dry weather. They feed on the blades of grass and eventually kill the grass. You may not have paid too much attention to how the lawn dried out. If the lawn faded from green to yellow to brown all across the lawn in a uniform pattern, then drought was probably the cause. If the browning started in one area of the lawn and spread over the lawn over a long period of time, then that was most likely caused by chinch bugs. The unfortunate thing is that lawns damaged by chinch bugs usually need to be dug up and re-seeded. The only good news is that late August thru late September is an ideal time to seed a lawn.  If your lawn begins to green up after the rain, then you can let Mother Nature run her course. You can help Her along by giving your lawn some fertilizer now and watering your lawn whenever you can do so.

My real concern at this point in time is that many trees and shrubs may have damage to their roots from the prolonged dry soil conditions. So far, the plants are surviving but as much as we hate to think about it, winter is coming. Winter winds are very dry winds. This type of wind pulls moisture out of the leaves of broadleaf evergreens and out of the bark of any plant that does not have a thick bark. Our plants protect themselves by taking up extra water and storing that water in the leaves and twigs of the plant. This process kicks off in earnest in the fall and continues right up until the ground freezes. The problem is that many of the plants now have damaged roots from this summer’s drought. These damaged roots will make it hard, if not impossible for the plants to take up the extra water they need to survive the winter. What you need to be doing now is to get some water into the root zone of your trees and shrubs. Once you have gotten some water around the root zone, you need to apply a root stimulating fertilizer to the soil. These fertilizers are commonly called plant starter fertilizers. These fertilizers have a higher amount of phosphorous in the mix. The phosphorous is the key to getting the roots growing again. The plant starter fertilizer is mixed with water and watered around the root zone of the plant. Once you get those roots growing again, the plants will have the ability to take up that extra water this fall. You really need to get started now on getting that root system growing again. If you can do just this one gardening project this weekend, you will be doing a lot toward saving the trees and shrubs in your yard.

Coming up to the beginning of September means it is time to re-seed your lawn or to be putting in a new lawn. More on that subject next week.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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