Did you get any rain last weekend? If so and you were lucky, it was only an inch and a half at best. We are in the midst of a very bad drought that is predicted to continue deep into fall with no end in sight. Depending on where you are in the city, we are over 13″ – 18″ down in rainfall for the year. In fact, the U.S. Drought Monitor has us categorized as in severe to extreme drought conditions. All of Missouri’s 114 counties and all of Kansas’ 105 counties have been declared a disaster due to the drought.
You know where this is going… YOU NEED TO WATER! It is important that plants go into winter with moist soil. This is especially important for evergreens as well as newly planted trees and shrubs. You should be giving your landscapes a good soaking at least once a week. Turn the hose on to just a trickle – to prevent runoff – and move it from plant to plant. For trees, be sure to water at the drip line (where rain would drip off a tree), not just at the trunk, and move the hose to several positions around the tree for even watering. Remember, moisture must reach at least 8″ to a foot down into the soil to water the deeper, more established roots.
Speaking of roots, any time you have these drought extremes, root growth is diminished which means a continued lack of water will stunt the overall growth of trees. If a tree has a diminished root going into wintertime, its growth will be diminished. The same is true for drought-stressed plants. They will probably take an extra season to reach their maximum size. The best way to help them along is to make sure they go into winter well-watered. And during the winter, continue to water your plants, particularly evergreens, when the ground isn’t frozen and a few days of mild weather are predicted.
One final note: The only way to ensure your plants are getting the moisture they need is to check the soil around them. The easiest way to do this is with a screwdriver, trowel, rod or like instrument. It should be pushed into moist ground down to 6″ and come up with damp soil on it’s surface.
As always, you can have your friends at Greenleaf help. Call us at 816-916-5171 and we will be happy to visit with you about our winter watering services.