HOME & GARDEN INFORMATION http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic HGIC 2351 1-888-656-9988 CENTER DroughtHot, dry summer months are some of the most • Footprinting: Walk across your lawn. Ifstressful times for plants in the landscape. Without your footprints remain in the grass veryadequate moisture, plants cannot function normally long, the lawn is dry.and can become predisposed to other stresses in the • Color Test: When a lawn is dry a long time,environment, such as winter injury or diseases. it will have a bluish-gray cast. WateringParticularly susceptible to drought damage are brings back the color.plants that have developed shallow root systems due • Check Leaves: Dry grass responds byto improper watering practices. More information wilting, rolling or folding the leaves.on how to water properly is described in HGIC • Screwdriver Test: If the soil is very dry, it1056, Watering Shrubs & Trees, and HGIC 1207, will be hard to insert a screwdriver intoWatering Lawns. the lawn.Watering Lawns Watering Your Lawn: Once you have determinedTo Water or Not to Water: When it comes to lawn that your lawn is dry, apply about an inch of water.irrigation, you have two choices during long, dry, This amount should moisten the soil to a depth of 4hot periods in the summer: to 6 inches. If runoff is a problem, apply half and let • Water the grass to keep it green. it soak in before applying more water. Early • Dont water. Let it turn brown and go morning is the best time to water. Irrigation timers dormant. should be set to water the lawn between 4 and 6 a.m.Watering keeps the grass green, but increases theneed for mowing, encourages weed growth, can Water your lawn only as often as necessary.cause lawn disease and raises your water bill. If you Applying a little bit of water daily can be harmful,decide to let your lawn go dormant, warm-season since it can encourage shallow roots. This makesgrasses like centipedegrass, bermudagrass, the grass less drought-tolerant. Stretch the intervalzoysiagrass and St. Augustinegrass will survive and between each watering to encourage developmentrebound when favorable conditions return. Tall of deep, extensive roots.fescue may not fare as well. In some cases,extended drought can severely injure or kill tall Watering Trees & Shrubsfescue. Whatever lawn care option you choose, Signs of Drought Stress: Drought symptoms canstick with it. Flip-flopping between the two can be very confusing and can vary with different typesweaken your lawn. of plants. Woody plants under drought stress can have many symptoms including, yellowing, wiltingHow to Identify a Thirsty Lawn: If you choose to leaves that develop early fall color and burning orirrigate your lawn during drought periods, do so scorching on the edges of leaves. Plants may dropefficiently. Water when the lawn shows signs of some or all of their leaves and appear to be dead."thirst," applying an appropriate amount at the righttime of day.
Generally, most woody plants will usually recover probe. Inspect these plants several times a weekwhen watered. Plants that appear to be dead, having during drought conditions. Dont forget thatdropped all or most of their leaves, might recover watering too often can also kill trees. Apply mulchwhen watered. Always check closely first to see if a around the base of trees and shrubs at least up to theplant is dead before removal. Scrape the outer layer dripline or outermost spread of the branches.of a twig or the bark to see if a green layer existsindicating that it is still alive. Herbaceous (Non-Woody) Plants: Keep these mulched and apply water before wilting occurs.Evergreen plants under drought stress typically do These plantings are usually the least expensive innot wilt later in the season when growth has the landscape and are usually a low priority duringstopped. The new growth on evergreen plants often drought.wilts when plants are under water stress. The leavesor needles can remain green up to several weeks Use Mulchafter an evergreen plant has died. Mulching not only decreases evaporation of water from the soil around plants, but it also lowers theHow to Water Trees & Shrubs Efficiently: The soil temperature and helps to reduce competitionbest time to water is in the early morning, when from weeds. For trees and shrubs, coarse-texturedthere is less evaporation and you can minimize mulch materials can be applied as deep as 4 inches.disease potential by not extending the normal dew Apply fine-textured mulches such as grass clippingsperiod. Drip irrigation that saturates the top 6 inches or shredded leaves no deeper than 2 inches to avoidof the soil is the most desirable. Before watering, matting. More information is available in HGICalways determine first if the soil is dry by using a 1604, Mulch.soil probe or digging down several inches with ahand trowel. Deep-water plants to wet the entire Prepared by Nancy Doubrava, HGIC Information Specialist, and Bobroot space. Do not let the leaves and stems of plants Polomski, Extension Consumer Horticulturist, Clemson University.get wet during watering. (New 05/99.) This information is supplied with the understanding that noNewly Planted Trees & Shrubs: Give priority to discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemsonwatering these plants during periods of drought. University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may notYoung plants have not had sufficient time to apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directionsestablish deep root systems, and depend on surface on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for Southwater for survival. Do not to let the root balls of Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action ofnewly planted trees and shrubs dry out completely state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions,or become too saturated. Before watering, check to precautions and restrictions that are listed.see if the soil is dry using a hand trowel or soil The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer. Clemson University Cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture, South Carolina Counties, Extension Service, Clemson, South Carolina. Issued in Furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work in Agriculture and Home Economics, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914 Public Service Activities