Not even the official first day of summer yet and we’ve already experienced summer in West Michigan…….twice! In March unusually warm weather got everyone thinking shorts and tank tops. Then hot dry weather the first half of June has toasted lawns and made it feel like it has been summer for months. The process has been tough on plants and lawns. Some trees and shrubs are still trying to play catch up and rebound from hard April frosts. Minimizing stress with some deep watering as they attempt to bounce back will be essential. One to two inch deep mulch at the base and some deep soakings will help, especially for plants put in the ground last year or this spring.
Remember sprinklers are for turf and hoses are for landscape plants. Morning is the best and most efficient time to water. For lawns don’t worry about weed control during hot dry periods. Save the weed control for less stressful times. They might be the only green some have in their lawns. Raise the deck on your lawnmower and if you have to mow do it during the coolest parts of the day. You don’t want grass expending energy in trying to grow leaf surface for photosynthesis. If possible park the lawnmower until we get through this period of heat and drought. Taller leaf blades help shade the crown of the plant. If your cool season turf goes brown don’t panic. Turf can endure a few weeks of dormancy and bounce back when weather conditions normalize.
If heat and drought persist longer than 3 to 4 weeks then you’ll have to get serious about “lawn-gevity” and whet the lawn’s appetite for a drink. In general lawns and plants should get 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches of water per week. Last I checked a number of areas in West Michigan have only had between a 1/2 to 1 inch of natural rainfall in the past 4 weeks! If you’re irrigating set out some coffee cans to measure how you’re doing.