A dry year in South Dakota can be detrimental to agricultural crops as well as horticultural crops. While we often hear customers say that they are not going to water their lawn or plants because it costs too much, there may be higher costs involved in not watering your plants! If you have not watered your shrubs, trees, perennials or lawn yet you may want to think twice about it. All plants need to have been watered by now or significant damage to the plant can occur. We talk a lot about deep infrequent watering, and now is the time when that is extremely important.
Lawns need to obtain at least an inch of water a week to maintain green growth. Water in the morning with deep waterings 3-4 times a week is best. However, the heat and wind that we have been experiencing may make it very difficult to keep your lawn green. You do not necessarily have to water your lawn to keep it green and growing, however, you should be watering your lawn to keep it alive. Your cool season grass will probably start to go into dormancy if not watered regularly. Even though it is turning brown, you still need to keep moisture at the crown so the plant does not die. Just like any plant, grass without moisture will die. If you can not water on a regular basis, water your lawn deeply every 7-10 days allowing at least a half inch of water to be put on the lawn. The sprinklers will have to be running in each section for an hour or more to obtain deep watering.
Trees either mature or newly planted are often overlooked. We are at the time of a drought where even the mature trees need to be watered. Any tree that was planted within the last 2 years need weekly watering. If planted this season plan on watering twice a week. The best method for us is to lay a hose out on the ground near the tree and set it at a slow stream for 30- 45 minutes. Your lawn irrigation does not count as watering your trees or shrubs. Trees planted more than 2 years should be watered every 7-10 days with the same technique but for a longer period of time. If you do not have the capability to reach a hose to your trees, treegators that hold at least 10 gallons of water are very effective.
Newly planted shrubs and perennials will be the first plants to show stress from lack of water. Please use the same technique as with trees by setting a hose to a slow stream to each plant. Each plant should be watered for 15-20 minutes. Plan on watering these every 3-4 days. Shrubs and perennials that are more established should be watered at least 1 time a week with the same method.
We always want you to succeed with all of your plantings but it does not stop at just planting them. With proper watering we are confident that you will get through this drought with beautiful plants!