With the amount of rain we have had and still have and apparently will have in the near future, the water restrictions have
been lifted for most cities in North Texas. I still wonder if that is a good thing? I also wonder how many landscapes are
going to suffer due to the increased amount of water they may receive from their over zealous homeowners?
Last year the drought and water restrictions caused many landscapes to receive less water then in previous years. How many of the landscapes suffered by receiving less frequent water than in summers past? To the best of my knowledge very few landscapes suffered due to the drought, except for those where the homeowner just gave up.
A lot of the plants that died last year were plants that were ill adapted for our area or may have already been stressed due to other reasons such as age, location, soil compaction or lack of nutrients. I have noticed those landscapes that were installed in the last few years have all made it through the drought with very little mortality.
There are of course several factors involved that may have helped plants survive the brutal heat and drought conditions:
- New beds may have had plenty of organic matter added to the soil. The organic matter would allow more nutrients, air and water to be available to the plants in that bed.
- New beds may have had a thick layer of mulch that would allow moisture retention and a cooling effect on the soil below. This cooling effect may help the roots of the plants grow more steadily allowing easier nutrient and moisture uptake.
So now that the rains have come and water restrictions have been lifted how many of us are going to revert to unlimited,
frequent watering? How many of us are going to screw things up by over watering and making the plants lazy?
Yes, by watering the plants on a regular basis we can cause the plants roots to shrink. Now they should have a deep root system extensive and strong to pull up moisture from deep soils were the water was available to them last year. If we water briefly but frequently, and allow the plants to find moisture near the surface then that is were the roots will be found.
I do not intend to revert back to twice a week watering. Why should I? For the last eight years my plants have been watered deeply once a week. Normally through a three cycle watering programmed into my irrigation system, allowing one inch of water a week my lawn and landscape has performed in most cases better then my neighbors. Because of the deep roots that my lawn and plants have built up through the years, I do not plan to increase the watering to my landscape.
What problems may arise from the increased amounts of water that Mother Nature has dumped on us?
We have already seen more powdery mildew and black spot pop up on all variety of plants. Some plants have already died because of a too wet root system. Black Foot Daisies, Four nerve Daisies, Coneflowers, Sedums and some flowers especially Zinnias and Periwinkles to name a few. Plants that are native to sandy soils of east Texas or the rocky soils of central Texas prefer good drainage. As mentioned above new landscapes normally are prepared with organic matter and or other ingredients that will help improve drainage in our tight clay soils.
Brown Patch on lawns, heck I have already seen slime mold on St. Augustine grass. I cannot remember when was the last time I saw this fungus. It is really not harmful, but is one that makes many customers call for help. It occurs in warm weather after heavy rains or watering. Slime mold usually goes away when rain or watering normalizes. If you want to you can sweep the Slime Mold with a broom to get rid of that black gunk on the blades of the grass.
Not only will plants and grass suffer from the amount of rain we have had, trees may topple over from the waterlogged soil as the roots break free from what was once a solid hold to the ground. As the winds blow against the canopies of trees it transfers the movement down the trunk and into the soil. As this movement sways back and forth, some trees will topple over. One way to counteract this push and pull movement (as the tree tries to maintain an upright positron it pulls it self back into it’s upright position) is to trim the canopy of the tree to allow wind movement between the branches.
Unfortunately this may allow certain oaks to become infected with the oak wilt virus, but when a branch gets ripped from the tree it also becomes susceptible. Worse yet the splintered wood may need further doctoring to create a clean cut that would help the cambium layer to roll over allowing the tree to heal itself.
Hopefully the heavy spring winds have passed us by and no more damage will be done to your trees. If you have any trees that need to be thinned out to avoid further wind damage, get it done. Thinning out can be accomplished without disfiguring the trees if done by a knowledgeable arborist. While the arborist is in the tree he will look for damaged branches that may not be visible from the ground.
The arborist will be at your house only for a few hours and will be able to see visible damage, but will not be able to tell you if the tree has suffered damage from last year’s drought. It will be up to you to pay attention to tell-tell signs indicating that something may be wrong with your trees. Stress in trees may show up as smaller leaves, discoloring of the leaves and fewer leaves filling the canopy of the tree.
I consult with Tyson Woods from Lambert’s, or should I say Moore’s Tree Service, a division of Lambert’s, whenever I have tree problems or questions that I cannot handle. Tyson can be reached at 214-350-8350 ext 161.
Things that need to be done in your garden:
Aerate the lawn; last year’s drought depleted organic matter in the soil and as the moisture was sucked out of the soil
collapsed the same. The tight soils will not have room for air and moisture. Aeration will help improve moisture percolation
as well as oxygen availability to the plants’ roots.
Aeration may also save you money by allowing the water to be contained in the thousands of cups that were created by the core-creating machine. The water collected in these cups will be out of the sun’s evaporating rays ensuring more water retention.
Aerated soils slow down the flow of surface water allowing less runoff.
Fertilize the lawn. Please use Green Sense Fertilizers. The cleansing waters may have depleted some of the nutrients from the soil, with as much rain as we have had I will be fertilizing my lawn again in the near future. Organic fertilizers are applied at a rate of 20 pounds per thousand square feet. Measure your lawn to ensure proper application.
Humate: I would suggest applications of Humate at this time. This petrified compost rich in organic matter has a positive effect on the physical, chemical, and biological reactions of the soil, leading to an increase in soil fertility. Humate is comprised of Humic Acid and Fulvic Acid, which promote root strength and develop beneficial microbial activity. After Humate is applied plants and grass may turn a deep green color without promoting faster top-growth.
Microbes: As I mentioned last month, Green Sense Lawn & Garden Microbes will help loosen soils while breaking down organic matter into a form that is more accessible to plants. If you do not want to aerate your lawn at least apply Microbes.
Mowing: I know most homeowners that do their own lawns look for excuses to not mow.
"The soil is too wet and I will compact the soil by walking over it!”
"The grass clippings will stick together and create thatch.”
“The grass is so wet and slippery that I may slip and fall.”
There is some truth to these excuses, but do not let these keep you from mowing for a very long time. I try to maintain the lawns that we take care of at a 2 inches height during the spring. Every week the grass grows to about a three-inch height. By mowing weekly we remove 1/3 of the leaf surface at any one time.
Mowing a lawn that is too tall by more than one third leaf removal can be damaging to the turf. If needed raise the mowing height and remove the grass clippings to your compost pile. By composting the grass you will remove the excess foliage that can become thatch.
Try to be a regular mower - it will be easier on you, the lawn mower and the lawn.
Be on the lookout for Brown Patch in your lawn. Look for brown splotches that may appear as small circles. If you treat early you can control the problem easily with Corn Meal or Potassium Bicarbonate.
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