5                                                                                                              conserve   ...
PLANT SMART                                                                                                               ...
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Conserve Water: Backyard Actions for A Cleaner Chesapeake Bay - Maryland Department of Agriculture


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Conserve Water: Backyard Actions for A Cleaner Chesapeake Bay - Maryland Department of Agriculture

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Conserve Water: Backyard Actions for A Cleaner Chesapeake Bay - Maryland Department of Agriculture

  1. 1. 5 conserve Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay... Become a Water-Wise Gardener Make Every Raindrop prompting backyard (continued) gardeners to keep an Count—Use Water Wisely Don’t water the driveway or other paved surfaces. Make water eye on the sky while certain sprinklers are aimed in the right direction and Farmers know the importance of conserving water, practicing water conservation techniques in that runoff is directed toward vegetated areas. not only during periods of extreme dry weather, earnest. If you rely on the garden hose to keep Help prevent surface runoff. Don’t apply water faster than it can be absorbed. but throughout the growing season and beyond. your lawn green and your garden lush and During drought emergencies, check with the Maryland Just as most of us are taught from childhood not attractive during dry conditions, consider the Department of the Environment at 1-800-633-6101 as to waste food, water conservation is similarly well as your local health department to learn whether following water-wise tips. you may use recycled or “gray” water from laundry or ingrained in the farmer’s psyche. dishes on gardens. Purchase a rain barrel equipped with mosquito netting Coping with Drought Conditions Farmers use a variety of methods to conserve water. to store rainwater runoff from down spouts. They know that soil composition plays a key role Learn more about Xeriscaping, a method of gardening Protect the Chesapeake Bay that uses drought tolerant plants and a combination in helping plants cope with drought. The clay soils of practices to reduce water usage. Visit the Home and that are found throughout much of Maryland can Garden Information Center’s web site listed below to Like farmers, homeowners download a fact sheet on Xeriscaping. harden and become brick-like under prolonged hot, play an important role in dry, sunny conditions. To conserve moisture and protecting our soil and water reduce evaporation on sun-baked crop fields, Be aware of water restrictions in your area. Watch or listen for news reports or contact the Maryland resources, especially the farmers leave the stalks and leaves of harvested Department of the Environment (MDE) at 1-800- Chesapeake Bay. This series crops on the ground to create a type of natural 633-6101. Drought information and restrictions will also be posted on MDE’s web site, mde.state.md.us. of fact sheets highlights mulch for newly planted crops. This practice, known Obey both voluntary and mandatory restrictions. as conservation tillage, can reduce evaporation by various conservation If outdoor watering is restricted and you are limited up to 35 percent. Winter cover crops of rye, wheat to using a hand-held container or hose with an measures—best management automatic shut-off valve, establish a priority system or barley also help farmers conserve water. They practices—that farmers use for your plants. First, determine which landscape help slow down rainwater runoff, control erosion, plants are most susceptible to water stress. Large to produce healthy crops and shade trees and mature shrubs can usually fend for and recycle leftover nutrients remaining in the soil themselves unless they begin to show signs of wilt or protect water quality in the after the summer harvest. When lack of rainfall their root systems have been recently disturbed. Chesapeake Bay and its threatens the survival of a crop, farmers rely on 1. Newly planted trees and shrubs should be given priority. tributaries. Homeowners can high-efficiency irrigation systems that are designed 2. Perennials, fruit trees, and vegetables are next apply these same conserva- to minimize evaporation and maximize the amount in line. tion measures to home, lawn, of water that reaches a crop field. During the past 3. Established turf, ornamental grasses and annuals should be placed at the bottom of several years, many areas of Maryland have and garden projects. Working your watering priority list. These are usually experienced persistent drought conditions, drought tolerant. together, we can make a difference for the Bay. ForOffice of Resource Conservation University of Maryland Extension more information on ways to50 Harry S. Truman Parkway Home and Garden Information CenterAnnapolis, MD 21401 12005 Homewood Road improve your lawn or garden410-841-5863 | mda.state.md.us Ellicott City, MD 21042 5 1-800-342-2507 | hgic.umd.edu and protect the Bay, contactFinancial assistance provided by the CoastalZone Management Act of 1972, as amended,administered by the Office of Ocean and Coastal the organizations listed onResource Management, National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration (NOAA). the back panel. Martin O’Malley Anthony G. Brown Earl F. Hance Mary Ellen Setting Governor Lt. Governor Secretary Deputy Secretary Maryland Department of Agriculture MDA 15.09.11 | Recycled paper
  2. 2. PLANT SMART Give Landscape Plants, Shrubs, Use native and beneficial plants that grow here naturally and are adapted to Marylands climate and soil types. The plants and Trees a Fighting Chance shown here may need watering until they are established or during extended dry periods, but they should hold their own Watch for signs of stress caused by drought. Wilted, curled, in most Maryland backyards with minimal care and maintenance. Contact your local nursery or the Home and Garden dull, yellowed, or brown leaves and undersized fruits and Information Center (HGIC) for additional suggestions. vegetables are signs of thirst. Use mulch to help plants retain moisture and reduce evaporation. A two-inch layer of mulch or compost is PERENNIALS recommended. Too much mulch will prevent water from reaching plant roots. ADAM’S NEEDLE BLACK-EYED BLUE WILD GREEN AND YUCCA SUSAN INDIGO GOLD + Condition your soil. Water does not easily penetrate clay soils The Grass Isn’t Always Greener Yucca filamentosa Rudbeckia hirta Baptisia australis Chrysogonum and passes too quickly beyond plant roots in sandy soils. Mix virginianum in organic matter to increase the penetrability of clay soilsMany species of turf naturally go dormant during the hot, and the water-holding capacity of sandy soils.dry summer months. It is not necessary to water grass that Water landscape plants early in the day to reduce evaporation.has gone dormant. The grass will green up once the rains EASTERN OR NEW ENGLAND SOLOMON’S SEAL TICKSEED Avoid watering at night—it promotes disease.return. Here are a few more tips to help see your lawn through WILD COLUMBINE ASTER* Polygonatum SUNFLOWER*the inevitable dry spells that we experience in Maryland. Aquilegia Aster biflorum Coreopsis If you must water at night, keep water off plant leaves. canadensis novae-angliae tinctoria Create a shallow depression around newly planted trees and Don’t select grasses that need a lot of water. Tall fescue shrubs to catch and hold water. is both drought and pest-resistant. Call the HGIC at 1-800-342-2507 or visit hgic.umd.edu for recommendations. SHRUBS/GRASSES Mow the grass higher than usual to prevent scorching, reduce weed problems, shade the soil, and conserve Become a Water-Wise Gardener AMERICAN PINXTERBLOOM NEW JERSEY TEA* RED OR BLACK moisture. BEAUTYBERRY AZALEA* Ceanothus CHOKEBERRY Don’t waste water; repair leaking Don’t walk on grass that has been stressed by drought. Callicarpa Rhododendron americanus Aronia arbutifolia, hose connections. americana periclymenoides A. melanocarpa This will further damage the grass. Footprints and a blue Use a rain gauge to monitor rainfall grey appearance are signs that a lawn is thirsty. and apply additional water to plants If you must water your lawn (and watering of grass is only if needed. SOUTHERN SPICEBUSH** WITCH HAZEL SWITCH GRASS not prohibited), do so early in the day with a sprinkler. ARROWWOOD* Check the soil in your garden or flower bed before watering. Lindera benzoin Hamamelis Panicum As a rule, water less often for longer lengths of time. Viburnum virginiana virgatum Wilting plants are not always thirsty—they could be getting too Avoid frequent, light watering—it promotes shallow dentatum much water. Using a screw driver, dig 4 to 6 inches to see if the root growth and encourages weeds. soil feels moist and cool. If so, leave it alone. Aerate your lawn to reduce soil compaction and help Shut off the hose when moving between plants or purchase water penetrate more deeply into the ground. a water wand with a shut-off valve. S M A L L / M E D I U M / O R N A M E N TA L T R E E S Don’t reseed or fertilize your lawn during the summer Invest in a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to further dormancy period. Late summer or early fall is the best AMERICAN WHITE DOWNY EASTERN conserve water. Slow, steady watering at the root area reduces time to reseed lawns (between August 15 and October HOLLY FRINGETREE** SERVICEBERRY** REDBUD** evaporation substantially. 15 for Central Maryland). Ilex opaca Chionanthus Amelanchier Cercis canadensis Turn off automatic, timed sprinklers when it rains and when virginicus arborea Fertilize lawns between September and December, as rainfall has been plentiful. long as the ground is not frozen. Never fertilize if heavy (List continued on back panel.) rain is forecast. It is unnecessary to apply fertilizer to lawns SHADE TREES in the spring. Doing so may contribute to nitrogen runoff. BLACK LOCUST** CHESTNUT OAK* COMMON PIGNUT Don’t plant grass where it won’t grow. Robinia Quercus prinus PERSIMMON * HICKORY* Grass is not always the best choice for pseudoacacia Diospyros Carya glabra virginiana steep slopes, shady areas or walkways. Problem areas will only get worse during dry conditions. Plant ground covers instead. PIN OAK* RED MAPLE PITCH PINE* WHITE PINE Quercus palustris Acer rubrum Pinus rigida Pinus strobus Perform a soil test in the fall and follow the recommendations to improve your soil. Soil testing information and soil sample bags are available by calling the HGIC at 1-800-342-2507 or visiting hgic.umd.edu. Photo Credits + Courtesy of Horticopia * ©USDA, NRCS@PLANTS ** ©William S. Justice, Smithsonian Institution@PLANTS