1) One or two deep irrigations with the garden hose in spring and early summer before those water restrictions go into place will do wonders at keeping ornamental bushes and trees alive over the summer drought.
2) Fruit and nut trees produce crops best if they receive continuous daily watering during blooming and fruit development phases. However, they too can be kept alive if given generous watering a few weeks apart. Your crop may not be as plentiful but the trees will survive.
3) Vegetable gardens require daily watering immediately after seeding or transplanting as they get established. Vegetables like carrots, beets and other root vegetables do not fare well in restricted water conditions, so limit planting those. Vine vegetables like squash, cucumbers, zucchini and pumpkin can survive on watering twice a week. Consider containers for things like tomatoes and beans if water is restricted.
4) Bermuda grass and Buffalo grass lawns are more drought resistant than other grasses. If you live in an area where watering is restricted, consider planting drought resistant grass varieties. Cut watering to half and water only twice a week even before water restrictions go into place. This will harden your lawn to drought conditions. Some lawn owners have even replaced lawns with decorative stone and drought-friendly plant varieties like cactus and decorative grasses.
The Lawn Institute offers these watering suggestions for lawns and gardens.
- The best time to water is daybreak and twilight. Wind and heat will not evaporate the water. Set your irrigation system for early morning.
- Don’t overwater. A quarter inch of water every four to six weeks will keep grass and shrubs and trees alive.
- To test for dryness use a screwdriver. If grass springs back after walking on it, it is getting enough moisture.
- When things are dry, walk on sidewalks not on the grass. Avoid mowing. It can injure the plants and cause dehydration.
- Restrict your watering to the plants that most need it.
- Change sprinkler heads to those that are specialized to more precisely water.
- If rain is expected, turn off your irrigation system. Water when things are dry not out of habit.
- Mow the grass high. Remove no more than one-third of the blades.
- Mow early in the day or late in the afternoon when it is cooler so lawn does not lose as much moisture.
- Keep mower blades sharp. Dull blades tear and shred grass stressing them.