Keep your landscape looking its best during the hot, dry summer months

by Melinda Myers

Hot dry weather continues to plague much of the country including right here in southeastern Wisconsin. Keeping lawns and landscapes alive and well has been a struggle for many gardeners. Here are a few ways to help your landscape through this challenging season:

• Prioritize watering. New plantings, moisture lovers and stressed plants should be the first to receive a good long drink.

• Give mature trees a hand. Even these landscape giants need water during drought. Soak the area under the dripline providing 10 gallons of water per inch diameter of tree trunk.

• Mulch the soil. Spread a two- to three-inch layer of woodchips, bark, shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter over the soil surface surrounding plants. It conserves water, keeps roots cooler, suppresses weeds and improves the soil as it decomposes.

• Dormant lawns should remain dormant. Taking your lawn in and out of dormancy with inconsistent watering is harder on the lawns than dormancy. Providing one-quarter inch of water once a month will help keep the crown of the grass alive without breaking dormancy.

• Minimize foot and equipment traffic on dormant lawns and do not treat with pesticides or fast-release high-nitrogen fertilizers that can damage a dormant lawn.

• Check container gardens at least once a day and more often during extreme heat. Move planters to a bit more shade to slow drying, reduce risk of scorch and heat stress.

• Use water wisely. Water early in the day when possible to reduce moisture loss to evaporation. Use soaker hoses and drip irrigation whenever possible. You’ll use less water by applying it right to the soil where it is needed. And always water thoroughly and less frequently to encourage plants to develop deeper more drought-tolerant roots. For more gardening tips visit,

Nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written more than 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments which air on more than 115 TV and radio stations throughout the United States and Canada. She is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds and Blooms magazine and writes the twice monthly “Gardeners’ Questions” newspaper column. Myers also has a column in Gardening How-to magazine. Melinda hosted “The Plant Doctor” radio program for more than 20 years as well as seven seasons of Great Lakes Gardener on PBS. She has written articles for Better Homes and Gardens and Fine Gardening and was a columnist and contributing editor for Backyard Living magazine. Myers has a master’s degree in horticulture, is a certified arborist and was a horticulture instructor with tenure. Her website is

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