The Midwest is known for its decent rainfall, some humid temperatures, and excellent growing potential. Typically, lawns and ornamental shrubs and flowers flourish with little encouragement. It’s rare to see homes with sprinkler systems, as the rainfall is sufficient to support landscape growth. A dry season, therefore, can be difficult for your landscape to weather. To help your plants and flowers survive a temporary Midwest drought, consider the following care suggestions.
Install a slow-drop irrigation system.
A slow-drip system is a great temporary solution for a dry season. You won’t need to install a complex sprinkler system with timers to ensure your plants get the water they need. Instead, you can purchase a slow-drip hose that is attached to a reservoir or to your outdoor water spigot. The hose directs water to your plants and releases it slowly throughout the day. This helps your plants during dry conditions because they have a constant source of water without the excess volume that would cause run-off. It saves you time because you won’t need to water your plants every day.
You’ll waste less water with these systems, and slow-drip irrigation is the best delivery method for new shrubs, young trees, and water-hungry flowers. It’s also a suitable method for watering vegetable gardens that normally thrive in the Midwest—plants like cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and peppers are especially dependent on plentiful water. The best time to run your drip system is during the night when the water can really soak into the soil without evaporating.
When regular moisture levels return, you can retire the slow-drip irrigation system easily and keep it on hand for dry seasons in the future.
Stay on top of weed control.
Weeds love the fertile conditions of the Midwest, and plenty of invasive plants like Creeping Charlie and Morning Glories thrive without encouragement. These plants are annoying during normal growing seasons, but they can be quite threatening when the summer is unseasonably dry and hot. They compete with your regular plants for water, and they will usually succeed at stunting or even killing weaker plants. Spray for weeds if you have a history of invasive weeds in your landscape, and take the time to pull out thirsty grasses, dandelions, and vines before they become too established.
Add mulch to your shrub and flower beds.
Use organic mulch to help trap in ground moisture. Midwest gardens can often go mulch free because the soil is rich and homeowners tend to prefer rocks for better drainage. However, clearing rocks away temporarily and using organic mulch matter (leaves, bark, and wood chips) is more effective for keeping soil nutrient dense and moist. Mulch should be thick enough to provide a good covering, but not so thick that plant roots grow up into it like it is soil. Be especially sure to mulch shrubs and small trees that have naturally shallow root systems, like dogwoods and willows.
Save pruning for wetter weather.
Some homeowners like their shrubs and trees to be well-trimmed, and with a normal Midwest climate, there would be no issue with pruning away dead or unsightly branches or cutting back unwieldy growth. However, cutting away branches on shrubs and trees can be deadly during drought, as they lose moisture and must take extra nutrients and water from the soil to heal the wounds that come from pruning. The goal of drought gardening should be to cause as little stress to your plants as possible.
For more information about keep your garden and landscape healthy during unexpectedly dry growing seasons through the use of drip irrigation systems, contact a company like H2O Lawn Sprinklers.