Beat the heat

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s hot outside. Lawns are parched and water bills are brimming over. While hardly possible to avoid this summer heat in OK, here are a few tips to get you through the remaining summer days without breaking the bank… and your yard will be much obliged.

According to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, landscapes are typically over-watered by as much as 20 to 40%. The key is to water less often, but deeply. Try aiming for 1 to 1.5 inches of water every 5 to 7 days during the growing season. Remember that high winds may displace your watering efforts and scorching temperatures can lead to evaporation. Whenever possible, water either early in the morning or just after sundown, and limit watering to less windy days.  An alternative is to install trickle or drip garden irrigation systems, which can use 80 to 90% less water than hose or sprinkler methods.

Mowing can also affect your lawn’s water retention. Cutting often and at a higher level, at least two to three inches, will reduce evaporation and root stress.  A mulching lawnmower is also recommended, because mulch helps grass retain water and reduces the amount of fertilizer needed to maintain a healthy and attractive lawn. Speaking of which, refrain from fertilizing during the summer months, which increases the need for water.

Flowerbeds will benefit from similar watering techniques and the application of mulch to retain moisture. New plantings, meanwhile, require more frequent watering during the first two years. Choose native plants or species with low water demand when planting ground-covers, shrubs and trees in your landscape. In addition to requiring less water after the first two years of establishment, native plants normally need less maintenance and fertilizer than imported species and have fewer problems with pests, diseases and extreme weather conditions. Recommended varieties include the following:

  • Flowering: Mexican Zinnia, Summer Snapdragon, Evening Primrose, Autumn Sage, Gaura , Purple Cone Flower, Crossvine
  • Shrubs: Firebush, Purple Fountain Grass, Mexican Feather Grass, Deciduous Holly
  • Ground cover: Silver Falls Dichondra, Mugwort

Find more drought tolerant plants at www.oklahomaproven.org.  Stay cool out their neighbors!

Your fellow gardener,

Erica Perryman

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