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Irrigation doís and doníts
For most of Michigan water needs in the landscape are reaching critical levels. Although showers are in the extended forecast, itíll take a few good day-long soakers to significantly affect soil moisture below the surface of the soil. While many homeowners are diligent to keep their lawns watered and green, trees and shrubs often get ignored. Reducing stress to trees and shrubs this time of year is critical. As we go into the fall trees are shifting internal resources and undergoing physiological changes that will enable them to withstand the rigors of the winter to come. If plants are subjected to severe stresses now, they will be more predisposed to various winter injuries. With this in mind, irrigating trees and shrubs should be on your list of landscape chores. Here are a few ďDoís and DonítsĒ to bear in mind as you irrigate your landscape.
Give good, long soakings rather than frequent light waterings. A typical rule of thumb is to provide at least 1 inch of irrigation per week. How many gallons of water this translates into depends on the size of the tree. If we measure the width of crown spread of a tree we can calculate the area under the drip line. We can then figure the volume of water needed to cover this area with 1 inch of water. Iíve done this in the table below and converted the volume to gallons. Iíve also calculated the length of time it would take to apply 1 inch of water assuming a typical garden hose flow rate of 5 to 6.5 gallons per minute.
Increase the irrigation of amount as temperatures soar. The 1 inch per week is a good rough guide but peak evaporative demand can approach 2 inches per week in Michigan during extremely hot summer weather.
Allow water to run-off. Water that runs off is wasted water. If youíre watering by hand and notice water running off move from tree to tree to allow water to soak in before resuming watering.
Ignore signs of drought stress in landscape plants. Wilting leaves, leaf scorch, dropping leaves and drooping leaders in conifers are your treeís way of saying, ďWhatís a guy gotta do to get a drink around here?!Ē
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