Although it’s been a fairly wet spring, we still have the summer ahead, and in the Minneapolis area summertime can bring droughts. Droughts cause moisture stress that affects every part of plants. Lack of rainfall causes wilting, leaf drop, and reduced growth, as well as increased disease and and pest infestations. Creating a comprehensive drought stress recovery program can help keep your plants and landscape healthy. Now is a good time to get yours figured out in case we have dry weather this summer. The basic steps to take can include irrigation, mulch, fertilization, pest management, and pruning.
- Irrigation, whether it is hand-watering or an irrigation system: Most large landscape plants require at least one inch of water per week during the growing season. If a plant is a new transplant, has root damage, or is a plant growing in sandy soil, it should be watered two times a week. The water should be directed at the root ball of new plantings. Landscape plants that are established and in clay or loam soils should be watered at least once a week.
- Mulch adds organic matter to the soil. It encourages root development and improves the soil’s ability to hold moisture. When an area is mulched it eliminates the competition for water and nutrients from the lawn or turf and other ground covers. Mulches including wood chips, shredded bark, pine straw or leaves can be used.
- Fertilizing helps prevent nutrient stress and minimizes the drought’s effects if the soil has the right level of fertility. Woody plants do well with slow release fertilizers. Wait to apply fertilizer after a drought ends, unless the area has been well watered. Some long-lasting fertilizers can intensify the drought stress if applied to dry soil. Trees and shrubs that have experienced drought often have their stems and roots damaged due to drought. This makes it difficult for their absorption and translocation of water and nutrients, so pay particular attention to your trees and large shrubs.
- Plants should be inspected regularly to check for pests and other plant health problems.
- Pruning helps to reduce pest problems by removing dead, damaged and dying branches. Thinning plants can help to reduce the demands for water and nutrients.
While drought conditions can put stress on your trees and plants, having a plan for supplementing care during dry periods can help them make it through. If you have questions about caring for your landscaping, please give us a call.