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Ideas from Ideal
by Rick Dassow, Owner
Ideal Property Management

Don't Leave Your Landscape High and Dry
-- Ideal Has Drought Tips for You

During very dry years, nature doesn't give us us much help in caring for our trees, lawns and gardens. That's when drought can take its toll and watering is critical. So here are a few tips to help you help your landscape through a dry spell.

Answer the Drought With H20

What to Watch For
  • Soil moisture levels: The way to check soil moisture is by inserting your finger through the mulch and into the soil 1" to 2" deep. If the soil is moist enough to stick to your finger, do NOT water. But if the soil checks dry, it's time to water.

  • Unhappy leaves: Drooping, yellowing or browning leaves on trees planted within the past four years (it's time to water)

  • Signs of stress: When shrubs and perennials you normally don't water show signs of stress, (it's time to water following the "slow and deep" rule described below.)

  • Wilting: Your trees look a bit "wilty" during the heat of the day (they normally will recover at night, so you may not have to water; but if you do, be sure to check moisture levels first).

  • An Air Gap: Be sure the soil around your trees are covered with 2 -3" of organic mulch and have a 1" air gap between the trunk and the mulch. (This prevents the bark on the lower part of the tree from staying too wet).
Guidelines for Watering Trees and Shrubs
  • Water slowly in order to allow deep penetration.
  • Consider that "slow and deep" are the secrets to successful watering -- especially trees.
  • If you use a "soaker" hose (one with small holes that let the water seep out), keep it running non-stop; if you use a regular hose, keep it running for hours at a low flow.
  • Water deep enough so the roots are encouraged downward (shallow watering has the opposite effect and can be bad for the tree in the long run.)
  • Be sure to water the area under the tree's crown, not just at the stump.
  • Remember that a tree's roots usually reach out as far as its branches; that's called the drip line.
  • Take care not to over-water (plants can be lost to over watering in our heavy clay soils)
General Tips
  • It's always best to check soil moisture before watering.
  • During very dry conditions, we typically suggest watering on a weekly basis, or more often if needed.
  • Under more normal conditions, a good rule of thumb for established trees is 1" of water per 7 - 10 days
  • A "slow flow" for a few hours (or, maybe all night) is better than blasting a bush, tree or lawn with water for short periods of time
  • Although your lawn may look dead, it most likely has gone dormant during the drought. Your best bet is to leave it that way until we get rain and it perks back up.
  • If you choose to water your very dry lawn, make sure you water long enough for the moisture to sink an inch into the ground.
  • For plants -- during extreme heat and drought conditions we suggest checking them twice a day and watering as needed; during periods with normal precipitation, we suggest watering daily as needed.
  • Remember that changing weather conditions will change the need for watering, so always water based on soil moisture rather than on a specific timetable.

Feel free to call me with your watering concerns and to learn how Ideal might be of help to YOU. Call (262) 246-8512 today.


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Dollar for dollar, few services will help increase a home's value more than professional landscaping. And you can count on Ideal Property Management to help you keep your lawn and landscape looking the best that it can be. Ideal has been serving clients in Milwaukee's Northshore for over 25 years.

Ideal Property Management, Inc.
7468 Circle Drive
Lannon, WI   53046

Phone: (262) 246-8512

"Landscape professionals with a passion for detail."