Brookfield, Wis. – In what seems a strange twist of horticultural fate, the intermittent rains in late July and early August have heightened the importance of watering landscape plants and young trees in this exceptionally dry summer.
The sporadic rainfall awoke many plants from a dormant state, spurring them to spend energy stored up during dormancy, said Todd Ruedt, owner of Grounds Maintenance Services, Brookfield. A return to dry conditions could be the survival tipping point for plants already weakened by the hot, arid weather, he said.
“Homeowners who care about their landscaping should be actively watering their plants, shrubs and young trees to ensure their survival,” Ruedt said. “The plants might not appear fully healthy even afterward, but this will help them survive very challenging conditions.”
Trees, shrubs and other plantings added in the past year are at greatest risk during the drought. Watering now can save the considerable time and expense of later replacement, Ruedt said.
Southeastern Wisconsin is in a state of “extreme drought,” according to federal guidelines. Rainfall is 3 to 6 inches below average levels, with the normally hot, dry month of August still ahead. Much of the moisture from recent hit-and-miss rains was lost to runoff and evaporation.
Most landscaping plants require at least an inch of water per week for optimum health, Ruedt said. A week without sustained rainfall should be the cue to begin watering.
“Homeowners have to make up what Mother Nature is not providing this year,” Ruedt said. “Helping plants through this tough time will leave less damage to repair in fall, when growing conditions should improve.”
Lawns can still be left alone to encourage dormancy, Ruedt said. Many communities have lawn sprinkling bans in effect, but allow residents to water plants and landscaping. Homeowners should check their local regulations to ensure compliance.
Founded in 1999, Grounds Maintenance Services offers a full range of landscaping and yard maintenance services, plus in-home Christmas tree delivery, holiday lighting setup and snow plowing. Its professional staff prides itself on helping homeowners grow their dreams, one yard at a time.