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man spreading mulch around hosta plants in garden

Summertime can be brutal when it comes to protecting landscapes in the South. Sustaining summer lawns and gardens starts with careful planning and management. Adequate soil moisture, selecting the right plant materials, weed control, and efficient water usage are recommended practices to maintain home grounds and gardens in hot weather.

Soil Moisture

Gardeners should take the needed steps to manage soil moisture. Using at least 3 inches of mulch in plant beds is a great way to maintain moisture. Also, landscape fabric can be used under the mulch to further conserve moisture and discourage weed growth.

Plant Materials

Placing the right plants in the right place is an important management practice. In difficult areas, select drought tolerant plants that are ideal for growing in Alabama.

Do not apply fertilizers during drought periods. When the time is right to apply fertilizers, go easy on using fertilizers that are high in nitrogen. High nitrogen fertilizers promote rapid vegetative, green leafy shoot growth but can also decrease overall root growth. This results in plants losing the ability to effectively extract moisture from the soil.

Weed Control

Remove any weeds by hand. Weeds not only compete for water and nutrients for the landscape, but can also harbor diseases and pests.

Water Usage

  • Utilize some form of drip irrigation within landscape beds. Incorporate a timing system to control time and duration of irrigation.
  • Water efficiently. When using timing systems, adjust watering times according to changing rainfall and do not deliver more water than the soil can absorb. Over watering or delivering water too quickly can result in waterlogged soils and water runoff.
  • Water longer and less frequently. Based upon the soil type, water long enough to allow irrigation water to penetrate up to 6 inches in depth. Too little water will facilitate shallow root growth that will lead to stress during periods of drought or extreme heat. Landscapes that have exposures on the north and east sides will require less water than ones with south and west side exposures.
  • When hand watering from a hose, use a water breaker or spray nozzle to deliver water slowly.

More Information

Additional landscape and lawn care information can be found at www.aces.edu.

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