April Is Water Awareness Month
As good gardeners, you know proper year round cultural practices are extremely important for the survival of plants, especially during drought conditions. Lawns are one of the most water demanding plants we have in the landscape. The homeowner should take the following steps to their lawn alive: If you have an established Bahia grass lawn allow it to go dormant by not watering it! Bahia has the ability to go dormant during times of drought and stress.
If you are not fortunate enough to have this very drought tolerant grass for your lawn, and are growing Saint Augustine (i.e. Floratam), the University of Florida recommends that you sharpen your lawn mower blade. A sharp blade makes cleaner cuts that cause less water to be lost. Increase the mowing height of the lawn. Longer leaf blades will encourage a deeper root system. Skip fertilizer applications. Applying fertilizer during times of drought promotes turf growth, and in turn increases the need for water.
Grass may not be the only plant having a difficult time with the increasing heat and lack of rainfall. Many of our shrubs, annuals, perennials and young trees may be struggling too. The home gardener can help their plants cope by applying a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch on flower beds or around trees. Make sure the mulch does not touch the stems or truck of your plants. Pull out weeds. Weeds use water that otherwise would be available to your desirable plants. Again, fertilizing promotes new growth, which increases the plant’s water needs. Skip the fertilizer until regular rains begin. Remove plants that are growing poorly. Do not waste water caring for marginal or undesirable plants. Hold off that pruning job until the rains begin again. Pruning promotes new growth which in turn increases the plant’s need for water.