Watering Tips for Summer Drought

Watering Tips for Summer Drought

According to the drought report published in June 2021 by NOAA, many areas of the Mid-Atlantic are having above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall.  The soil across the region is becoming very dry after a wet winter and spring. 

If you want to maintain the health of your plants you should consider watering prior to stressing the plant by allowing it to wilt and throw leaves. 

It is best to apply water directly to the soil with a hose, soaker hose, tree bag

Tree water donut or bag

 or donut, or with a container of water. This lessens the amount of water lost to evaporation and limits fungal infections.

  Perennials, shrubs, and trees should receive the equivalent of  1 inch of rain weekly around the drip line.  The drip line is a vertical line that follows the edge of the canopy straight down to the ground.  Many of the roots that can harvest the water are in that area and extend back toward the plant for 12 inches or so depending on the size of the canopy. This amount should be applied at one time so that the water travels down deeply into the soil and the roots follow giving the plant a more robust widespread root system. 

To measure 1 inch of water, place a tuna can under your soaker hose towards the end of the hose and when the can is full you have applied an inch of water.  I find mine need to run about 45 minutes to get this done. The amount of time depends on your water pressure.

Containers above ground or potted plants should be watered daily as they are above ground and the heat and air hit all sides drying the plant’s roots quickly.  Newly planted perennials, shrubs, and trees 1 inch weekly applied directly on the soil.  Established plants older than 5 years should be watered with a 1” application to the soil every 2 weeks to maintain good health. Annuals can be watered twice weekly using the same method or you can allow them to succumb to the heat as they are only viable for a short window. Lawns should be watered deeply twice weekly to maintain their color. Never water daily or lightly as this just stresses the grass roots. Lawns can also be allowed to go dormant and turn brown until the fall rains reboot them. 

If drought becomes too intense then you can pick or choose the plants that you care for.  Keep in mind natives have lived through thousands of years and many droughts and usually recover.   


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