We are setting records here in Birmingham with the extreme heat and the extended number of days with temperatures near 100 degrees or above.  We are short on rainfall, especially long, slow rains that have time to soak into the ground.  People and pets are not the only ones needing extra attention with it so hot.  Your plants do too.  How often do you have plants in your yard wilting by mid-day?  Have you lost any plants due to the heat and dry conditions?  Here are some tips for caring for and watering your gardens and landscapes during these hot, dry days:

–  Water/Irrigate in the early morning hours or evening hours to prevent most of the water being lost through evaporation.  Early morning is preferrable because it minimizes mildew and fungal problems on plants and turf. 

–  Water deeply.  It is better to water less frequently for longer lengths of time, than to water more often for shorter lengths of time.  Plants and turf need their roots to go deep to help survive hot, dry periods.  Deep watering (less frequent/longer lengths) helps achieve this. 

– If you have automatic irrigation and it is running every day, you are watering too much.  Did you know that plants can die from too much water just as easily as they can from not enough water? Generally speaking, typical landscapes in the Birmingham area are usually ok being watered 2-3 days per week at longer lengths of time.  That said, it depends on your landscape, plant material, amount of sunlight, terrain, etc. (You might be surprised at the number of homes we visit that are irrigation every single day!  The plants are drowning.)

–  Make sure you have the right plants.  Having plants in your yard that will naturally do well in your area and/or are native to your area will help ensure they survive the tough times.  In addition, making sure they are planted in the right place in the yard is very important.  For example, azaleas prefer some shade/filtered light as opposed to full sun.  If they are in full sun, you will have to water them a lot more and they may not survive hot, dry conditions, especially if they were recently planted.  Hydrangea prefer partial to full shade as well.  One of the most common mistakes made by homeowners is to place plants in the wrong place in their garden/landscape. 

– Plants that are established require much less water than new plantings.  Once established, you can reduce the amount of watering on older plants (if they are located in the right place).  Turf typically requires less water than plants. 

– Planting in the fall/winter months allows plants to become acclimated and get a “head start” before the heat of the summer arrives.  This can reduce your watering.

– If you have automatic irrigation, make sure that you have a sewer credit meter if your home is not on a septic system.  If you are on the city sewer system and have automatic irrigation, most cities will allow you to deduct water used in landscapes from your sewer bill.  Birmingham does this, but you are responsible for submitting that information to them. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to call Blackjack Horticulture at 205-836-2933 or contact us via our website. 


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