Danger! Rough road ahead !
Why does no one talk about the fall drought we are experiencing? Is it true that we just don’t care or are unaware and insensitive to the natural world around us as well as the needs of our landscapes? Even if you have an underground irrigation system to water your lawns and landscape beds, I’m willing to bet it has been turned off for winter. We are at a deficit when it comes to rainfall. It has been unusually warm, dry and now windy.
In spring, plants need water in the form of snowmelt, ground water and rainfall to produce leaves, flowers, etc. In the spring drought we experienced this past year (actually two years in a row) the plants were stressed during what usually would be a lush time. The plants have the option of producing less leaf growth and flowers to conserve energy. In the fall, however, plants and especially trees need to transfer energy to the root systems to produce food. When normal weather conditions (whatever that is) don’t provide adequate resources for healthy growth, we must compensate.
The real danger to the plants is the desiccation and drying of roots, twigs and stems causing die back, weakness and possibly, in extreme cases, death. It is very hard to determine by observation if a woody plant is stressed in winter.
These are recommendations for improving your landscapes’ health and survivability:
First, and most important, Water,Water,Water! Put out an impulse lawn sprinkler and leave it in each area for an hour.
Next, apply an anti-dessicant spray to reduce winter burn, especially to evergreens.
Lastly, deep root feeding of specimen trees and shrubs will insure you have adequately hydrated the root zone before the ground freezes and the roots freeze dry. This is most critical. If we do not get at least a couple of inches of rain before the ground freezes, usually soon after Thanksgiving in our area, plant systems could be exposed to a freeze drying effect. If the ground freezes without moisture the delicate root hairs may be freeze dried or damaged, limiting the plants ability to uptake water from the roots. This damage may not be obviously visible in one or more seasons.
Take the time to care for your landscape now and have the peace of mind that you have done everything you could to help and protect your plants, landscape and investment in your property.
This is the best way to insure you will continue to enjoy your ‘Landscape for Better Living’.
Post Script: I am a huge advocate for organic, naturally sustainable landscaping. Now is a good time for organic fertilizers for your lawns, trees and shrubs. Acid-loving plants require elemental sulfur in much of our area to adjust the ph. Also, apply calcitic lime and/or gypsum, if needed (based on soil test). I use and recommend bio-stimulants to improve the soil biology as well.
Don’t forget snowplow reflectors and deer repellant!
Jay Archer, President