Richard Bogren, Owings, Allen D. | 8/15/2015 1:04:34 AM
News Release Distributed 08/14/15
By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist
HAMMOND, La. – The second hottest July on record in many parts of Louisiana coupled with below-normal rainfall statewide over the past eight weeks has led to drought symptoms in most landscapes. Lawns and landscape beds are suffering. Irrigation is vital through the rest of summer and through fall to prevent long-term damage to plants.
In the landscape, watering at the right time of day is important. It is best to irrigate when the sun is low, the winds are calm and temperatures are cool. This will save water – as much as 30 percent – by reducing evaporative losses. The best time to water is from early morning a couple hours before sunrise until midmorning. Most landscape and lawn areas need 0.75-1 inch of irrigation weekly.
When irrigating, saturate the root zones. Roots are generally within the top 6 inches of soil. Let the soil dry between irrigations. Watering too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.
It is best to irrigate at a rate so the soil can take in the water being applied. You don’t want irrigation water to go into a parking area or down the street. Water a couple times weekly instead of watering a little bit every day.
Water conservation tips for the lawn, landscape and garden include:
– Aerate your lawn and around trees at least once a year to ensure good water penetration. Turn and cultivate soil, adding compost or fertilizer when planting. This helps the soil hold moisture and produces healthier plants that require less water to remain strong.
– Mulch well around landscape plants. Use 2-4 inches of mulch around trees and shrubs. This reduces evaporation, moderates soil temperatures, improves water penetration and helps control weeds that compete for water. Pine straw is the best mulch in Louisiana.
– Landscape to suit your lot. Evaluate conditions like sun and shade, dry and damp areas, the size plants you want now and at maturity, and how you want to use each section of your landscape.
– Purchase turf or plant species that have low water requirements and are well-suited to the environment and the location where they’ll be planted.
– Group landscape plants with similar moisture needs in the same area. Separate them from turf areas, which have different water requirements.
– Plant in spring or fall when less water is needed to establish new plants. Smaller plants also need less water to become established.
– Create functional turf areas, for example, play areas. Avoid using turf where it’s difficult to irrigate properly, such as on steep slopes. Good alternatives for hard-to-irrigate areas are ground covers, perimeter plants and mulch.
– Plant shade trees to lower the air and soil temperatures. This will reduce soil moisture loss, too.
– Maintain your yard by mowing, weeding, pruning and irrigating as needed. A well-maintained yard requires less water.
All of this is important information for using your irrigation system and watering your plants properly. Irrigation will continue to be important as we move through the rest of the summer and fall in Louisiana.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website at www.lsuagcenter.com/hammond. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.