Landscaping News: Keep your landscape looking its best during hot, dry summer

A stressed hosta. (Photo courtesy of Melinda Myers, LLC)

By Melinda Myers
Gardening Expert, TV & Radio Host, Author and Columnist

Hot, dry weather continues to plague much of the country, including right here in southeastern Wisconsin. Keeping lawns and landscapes alive and well has been a struggle for many gardeners. Following are a few ways to help your landscape through this challenging season:

Prioritize watering. New plantings, moisture lovers and stressed plants should be the first to receive a good, long drink.

Give mature trees a hand. Even these landscape giants need water during drought. Soak the area under the dripline, providing 10 gallons of water per inch diameter of tree trunk.

Mulch the soil. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of woodchips, bark, shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter over the soil surface surrounding plants. It conserves water, keeps roots cooler, suppresses weeds and improves the soil as it decomposes.

Dormant lawns should remain dormant. Taking your lawn in and out of dormancy with inconsistent watering is harder on the lawns than dormancy. Providing a quarter inch of water once a month will help keep the crown of the grass alive without breaking dormancy.

Minimize foot and equipment traffic on dormant lawns and do not treat with pesticides or fast-release, high-nitrogen fertilizers that can damage a dormant lawn.

Check container gardens at least once a day and more often during extreme heat. Move planters to a bit more shade to slow drying, reduce risk of scorch and heat stress.

Use water wisely. Water early in day when possible to reduce moisture loss to evaporation. Use soaker hoses and drip irrigation whenever possible. You’ll use less water by applying it right to the soil where it is needed. And always water thoroughly and less frequently to encourage plants to develop deeper, more drought-tolerant roots.

For more gardening tips, visit

Nationally-known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist Melinda Myers has 30 years of horticulture experience and has written more than 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and The Garden Book for Wisconsin. She hosts the nationally-syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments, which air on 89 TV and radio stations throughout the U.S. Visit

From the Aug. 1-7, 2012, issue

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