We are in a serious drought right now. This is the second driest May in Chicago on record. Typically, our area receives about 12in of rain from Jan 1st - today. This year, the cumulative total has been 5.51 in. The temperatures will be getting warmer soon which means so will evaporation and the need for water from plants. If this lack of rain continues in the next month, we will very likely see some serious drought damage to our plants, agriculture and natural ecosystems.
Keep reading for some tips from Chalet's Chief Horticulturist, Tony Fulmer, on how to save your garden and landscape with the lack of rain this spring.
- Make anything planted this year a priority- whether it’s an annual, perennial, shrub or tree. We love the analogy that new plants should be treated like intensive care patients and checked daily for hydration.
- Don’t use wilting as your reminder that a plant needs water. Be ahead of the game and water before a plant “flags”. We recommend imagining that the plant is still above ground in its original container. Visual how much water you would have to apply for the water to be coming through the drainage holes in the container or out of the bottom of the burlap on a balled & burlapped plant. Once you’ve watered the entire ball from top to bottom, and side to side, you’re finished for the day.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch to reduce surface evaporation.
- Irrigation systems have to be on a LONG time to wet to the bottom of the root system of a newly installed large tree or shrub. Spend the time and water as needed bearing in mind that as we go through the 80s and into the 90s plants are going to dehydrate more quickly than when temps are in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.
- Sorry, but it’s impossible to recommend a watering “schedule”. Watering varies with temperature, soil type, plant type (just a quickie, evergreens should be watered less frequently than soft-leaved plants like ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea or coleus, for example). A watering schedule would be meaningless.