>The ugly…

> They declared the drought in Central and South Texas as “extreme” and “exceptional” the other day. Our area is the only one in the nation to be in a declared drought right now and lake levels are at a 25-year low. It’s not hard to find record-breaking facts right now having to do with the heat here in Central Texas. And for gardeners, that means things are ugly right now. July is already a tiresome month for gardens here because of the normal heat we get, but we have been above 100 degrees for a long time with no rain.

Container plants need to be watered at least twice a day on my patio, and many of them I have dragged into the shade to give them a little break from the sun’s searing rays. Shade will help them quite ba bit. And the grass, what can I say? I know I have St. Augustine and this is a good shade grass, not good for full sun. But I have both shade and sun on my property, so what is a homeowner to do- install patchwork grass of different types according to sun and shade locations on their porperty? The grass is usually able to hold on quite well most of the year, but this drought has just put it through it’s paces. I’m not interested in keeping the greenest lawn on the block and running up water bills and breaking water restrictions while I am at it. At this point, I just want to keep a hint of life in it to carry it through the rest of the summer until rains will revive it. But man, even with two waterings a week, look at this crispy lawn.

At least it is nice to remind myself that this is considered “extreme: weather for Texas and won’t be something I will have to deal with every year.

So what is a gardener to do in this heat and drought? If you don’t have mulch on top of the soil, add it…NOW…LOTS OF IT. It will help to keep in moisture and keep the soil temperature down. If you are watering, give deep soakings, especially to the lawn so it will develop deeper, stronger roots. And keep an eye out for things you might not normally have to watch- like trees. Our trees are now going through their second year of drought and this can really stress a tree, introducing an opportunity for diseases or pests to move in and take advantage. If trees look like they are having problems, give them infrequent, deep soakings with a hose to help them through to the fall.

Ahhh fall. Will it ever come?

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4 thoughts on “>The ugly…

  1. >When I began gardening last fall, I definitely wasn't expecting that keeping my plants alive would be such a challenge the following summer. The heat is unbearable, and if not for my plants, I'd probably be deperately staying indoors in the A/C. As awful as it is to watch so many of my new plants and trees and shrubs succumb to the heat, I feel bad when thoroughly established plants in other yards don't make it, either. I've already decided that I need to plant some trees in the fall to eventually provide afternoon shade for my full-sun plants… if they'll survive next summer.

  2. >Double uh huh on that Bonnie. I'm at survival mode myself. I'm just trying to get as many plants to make it to the fall as I can. I am glad I have planted a lot of natives through the years. I hardly ever water them and they are all going to make it. I guess we need to plant more natives but they just don't work for every spot.

  3. >We actually did do the patchwork lawn thing, and it worked pretty well – zoysia in the sun & St Augustine in the shade, but it has been so brutal this summer I am not sure if either will survive till fall. We just can't spare the water to water it once a week.You are right about mulching – the more the better.

  4. >Bonnie – I had to break down and hose-soak some trees last week — they have been in 2 or 3 years, but were showing serious signs of stress – losing leaves. I haven't over watered or broken rules, but my water bill is astronomical, so that's it. We'll see how long it takes for things to die. I'm with you, hurry up Fall and that rain they are promising us!

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