Water Monitoring

Soil In Hand For Planting
Photo by iStock / Getty Images Plus: Sasiistock

One often overlooked landscape task during late autumn is watering the lawn and landscape. Rainfall will typically provide the necessary moisture; however, it’s not always the case, depending on the year. Even though the weather is cooler, evaporation may leave shrubs, turfgrass and trees with drought stress. If there has been no rain for a week, it is time to start monitoring.  The simplest way is to insert a finger up to the second knuckle to test for moisture. The soil should be damp but not saturated.  If the soil is dry and powdery, it is time to water — 1 ½ to 2 inches of water weekly is average. Do not water lightly. Keeping the upper layer of soil moist while the lower depths are dry will encourage root growth only in the upper layer and make the plant much more susceptible to death during a drought. Mulching over the plant’s root zone will help hold the moisture in place. Organic matter holds water, releasing it slowly.

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