38 July 14, 2010

Even though the rain came on the weekend, it was nice to finally get some rain. Luckily, the rain started gently, allowing much of the rain to soak into the lawns and gardens.

During the past week, we have had many customers bring samples of leaves into the store. Many of the leaves had fallen off of tree and shrubs. The cause of the leaf drop was from lack of water.

Even though we received a lot of rain in March, we have not received a lot of rain since that time. If you were able to dig down deep into the soil, you would see that the soil is very dry. The roots of trees are in this zone of very dry soil. Since the tree cannot get enough water from the ground, the tree will begin to drop leaves. This reduces the amount of leaf surface through which the tree loses moisture to evaporation through the leaves.

Many of the shrubs we have in our yards are relatively shallow rooted. The lack of moisture near the surface will cause these plants to drop leaves and in some plants it will cause the needled evergreens to drop needles.  Since we cannot get Mother Nature to co-operate with additional rainfall, we need to be replacing that moisture into the soil. Trees and shrubs will need a through watering once a week. The best way to do this is with a soaker hose. I have talked about soaker hoses in the past few columns. Soaker hoses very efficiently place all the water at the root zone. Using soaker hoses also reduces the loss of water through evaporation. A conventional sprinkler can lead to a 30 to 50% loss of water to evaporation before the water hits the ground. Considering that some towns and cities are beginning to restrict when you can water and for how long you can water outdoors, any efficient means of watering is best for your plants and our existing water supplies.

There are other things that you can do to help your trees and shrubs survive this dry period. In the fall, many of you apply an anti-desiccant to the leaves of your broadleaf evergreens. This helps to prevent the dry winter winds from drying out the leaves. You can use this same product during the summer to lessen the loss of moisture through the leaves of trees and shrubs. You will apply the product at a 10-1 dilution. It can be sprayed on your trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials. It can even be applied to the leaves of many of your vegetable plants. This is a particularly valuable way to save your plants if you are going away on vacation for a week or more.

Another thing that you can do is to apply a layer of mulch around your plants. Many of you mulch your plants in the spring. If you have done this, then there is no need to do it again. However, if you didn’t get around to mulching, you can still do so now. Mulching helps to hold in moisture and it helps to cool the area around the roots. You need about 2 to 3 inches of mulch to be effective.

A lack of rain has made it harder for our plants this summer. If you can follow these garden tips, you can save your plants from damage due to our dry summer.

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

You may also like