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What to Do During A Drought

by Miguel Mori
What to Do During A Drought

It's the most obvious strategy, of course, but to stay healthy, most lawns like an inch of mositure per week and garden plants require much more. As a rule of thumb 1-inch of water penetrates the soil by three inches. If a tree has roots when planted that are 12 inches deep, it will need 4 inches of water on the surface to reach all the way down. (Your sprinkler won't be enough when it's a heat wave)

Make sure to give deep watering over frequent watering. It's a bit of a waste to give your plants less water more frequently: Doing so discourages the roots from growing as deeply into the soil (where it stays moister longer) as they can, and it's also inefficient as more water is lost to evaporation.

Water Your Garden

*Tip: To measure the amount of water your plant is getting, cut the top off a 2 liter pop bottle and put it next to your plant of choice, or use a tuna can (they're about an inch high), every time the tuna can is filled or an inch of water has filled the pop bottle, you will have watered down by 3 inches. This is a great way to really see how far your sprinkler or a rain fall is going for your garden.

*Mike~ism: When measuring your watering, remember 15 minutes is a measurement of time, not a measurement of water. Your plants are a living thing that depend on you to survive

Apply Mulch

A 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch over the soil can do wonders: It keeps the soil cooler and shields the ground from direct sun. The benefit is that moisture stays in the soil longer, where it's more available to your garden plants.

Run a soaker hose underneath your mulch to maximize water savings: Water will be delivered directly to the ground (reducing evaporation) and slowly (reducing water loss to runoff). It will also keep plant foliage dry, which helps prevent many common fungal diseases such as black spot on roses.

Stop Fertilizing

If you apply fertilizers (organic or synthetic), it's helpful to stop at the onset of a drought. Fertilizers encourage plant growth; the more a plant grows, the more moisture it needs. If fertilizer salts build up in your soil because they're not naturally leaching out with rain or irrigation, they can build up and burn plant roots, causing further damage.

Pull Weeds

It might not be fun at the best of times, but getting those weeds out of the garden is especially important during drought. The reason: Weeds' roots steal valuable moisture from the soil.

Deadhead Your Flowers

Removing spent blooms before they have a chance to set seed saves energy for your plants: They don't need to put extra energy (which they need water for) into producing seeds.

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