Fall Watering Aids Tree & Shrub Health

Image of burning bushBy Sarah Browning and John Fech, UNL Extension Horticulture Educators
September 23, 2013

Many homeowners haven't thought much about drought this year, however, conditions in Nebraska have ranged from abnormally dry to exceptional drought all year, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

In fall, warm dry days with cool nights usually lead to great fall leaf coloration, but dry late summer and fall conditions have a downside, too. Extremely dry conditions result in root death, and a corresponding death of branches and foliage. But perhaps more important, even moderately water-stressed plants are more susceptible to attack by secondary pests, such as insects or disease pathogens.

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Mulch 101

Image of a well-mulched treeBy  John C. Fech, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator, and ISA Certified Arborist

For many gardeners, applying mulch is standard procedure... like brushing your teeth.  But before you jump the gun and mulch away,. it’s important to survey your landscape needs. Instead of merely tossing bark nuggets to and fro, ask yourself the question, “Why do I want to mulch this flower garden, this strawberry patch, this veggie garden?”  Think about moisture retention, weed suppression, cooling or warming the soil, and of course, its appearance.

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News Articles

These writings appear in weekly newspapers throughout eastern Nebraska, and in the Home & Garden section of droughtresources.unl.edu, with the goal of helping homeowners manage their landscapes during drought.  Public water suppliers are welcome to use these writings in their newsletters, or other clientele information tools, or share them with their community newspaper.  Please credit UNL Extension as the information source.

Buildings & Homes

Dry Soil May Cause Building Foundation Problems, Drought not only affects crops and plants. It also may cause sticking doors or windows, and cracks in walls or ceilings due to soil shrinkage.

Dry Weather, Dry Plants Are Fire Risks - During the dormant season, with dry plants and dry plant material not being covered by snow or moistened by rain, be aware of the potential fire hazard.

Fruits & Vegetables

Prepare Vegetable Gardens for Dry Summer Conditions - With the possibility of drought conditions again this summer, it's a good idea to prepare your gardens properly so that your vegetables can withstand reduced water throughout the summer.

Tree Fruit Water Needs in Drought, Washington State Extension
This publication highlights critical management concerns for fruit trees under drought conditions.

Municipal Water Use

Water Wise for Western Nebraska: A Look at the Municipal Side of Water Conservation - Conserving water in homes and outdoor landscapes not only helps preserve this vital natural resource, but also has benefits that go beyond what some may realize.

Ornamentals

Keeping Your Landscape Healthy During Drought - Knowing how and when to water, as well as setting landscape priorities can help you focus your efforts.

Mulch 101 - Before mulching, think about moisture retention, weed suppression, cooling or warming the soil, and of course, its appearance.

Mulch to Conserve Soil Moisture - Mulching plants during winter can reduce injury from winter drying.

Rainwater Harvesting

Alternative Water for Landscape Conservation - In many cases, public water supplies treated to a minimum standard are used for lawn and landscape irrigation. Plants do not require water that has been treated to drinking water standards.

Harvest the Rain - Because water is an important resource that needs to be conserved, rainwater harvesting is a growing trend.

Soil

Amending Soil for Water Conservation - Good soil is the foundation to efficient water use and healthy plants.

Soil Amendments for Lawns and Landscapes - Soil composition and quality is a critical factor in the health of lawn grasses or landscape plants.  Knowing the characteristics of your soil, and using soil amendments if needed, will create a good growing environment for a healthy landscape. 

Trees & Shrubs

Heat, Drought Is Hard on Trees - Pay particular attention to trees and shrubs and thoroughly water them if they begin to show signs of leaf wilt, discoloration or drying.

Fall Watering Aids Tree & Shrub Health - Dry late summer and fall conditions can result in extremely dry soil conditions, result in root death, and a corresponding death of branches and foliage.

Mulch 101 - Before mulching, think about moisture retention, weed suppression, cooling or warming the soil, and of course, its appearance.

Pruning Drought Stressed Trees - Pruning drought stressed trees could lead to increased risk of a disease or insect attack, or slow a trees recovery from drought.

Watering Tips for Trees & Shrubs: When to Water - Follow these easy tips to make the best use of water in your landscape.

Water Wise for Western Nebraska: Trees and Turf Have Different Water Needs - Trees and turf often share space in home landscapes, but they have different water needs. Understanding this can help conserve water and save money.

Windbreaks and Snow Fences - The ongoing drought makes us value whatever moisture we get, even snow.

Turfgrass

13 Effective Strategies for Managing Lawns during Periods of Hot, Dry Weather - Turf care under the hot sun.

Avoid Overwatering Lawns and Landscapes - When it comes to landscape irrigation, much water is wasted. Some estimates are that lawns and landscapes are overwatered by 30 to 300 percent.

How Long Will Kentucky Bluegrass or Tall Fescue Survive When Dormant? - Either because of drought or perhaps to conserve water, cool-season grasses can be allowed to go dormant in extended droughts.

Increase Lawn Irrigation Efficiency - Like any mechanical system with moving parts, irrigation systems need to be properly maintained and regularly checked to determine if they are operating correctly.

Step by Step Lawn Rehabilitation - Lawns that have been damaged can either be overseeded, or killed and renovated.  Learn the steps to re-establishing a healthy, thick turf.

Stressed Turf Over Septic Tank - While areas over the drainfield may remain lush and green, quite the opposite may happen above the septic tank.

Water Wise for Western Nebraska: Alternative to Bluegrass Turf - The single biggest use of water in the average western Nebraska household is irrigating the Kentucky bluegrass lawn. Homeowners in western Nebraska have two alternative.

Water Wise for Western Nebraska: Give Your Lawn Irrigation System an Audit - The weather has heated up, and sprinkler systems are watering lawns all over town. This is the ideal time to audit sprinkler system performance.

Water Wise for Western Nebraska: When to Start Watering, Fertilizing and Mowing in Western Nebraska - When spring brings warmer days, it's tempting to watering the lawn and spread some fertilizer. But before you do that, take a moment to stop and think.

Water Wise for Western Nebraska: Fertilizing and Mowing Your Lawn - Fertilizing a turf grass lawn is a lot more than just buying a bag of fertilizer and spreading it all in the spring.

Water Wise for Western Nebraska: Trees and Turf Have Different Water Needs - Trees and turf often share space in home landscapes, but they have different water needs. Understanding this can help conserve water and save money.

 

Ag Almanac Audio Recordings

Fall Site Preparation for Conservation Tree and Shrub Plantings, Oct. 4, 2013
If you want to plant conservation trees, it is important to prepare a planting site in the fall. Dennis Adams, UNL Extension Forester

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Harvesting Rain
Methods of rain harvesting include using rain barrels, cisterns, rain gardens and bioretention gardens. Kelly Feehan, UNL Extension Educator

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Water Wise NebGuides

Water Wise: Vegetable and Fruit Production, G2189
Following simple water management guidelines will help keep vegetable and fruit production strong during periods of drought.

Water Wise: Drought Effects on Turf in the Landscape, G2191
Periods of drought can damage turfgrass. Through careful selection of turfgrass species and irrigation, turfgrass can remain healthy.

Water Wise: Managing Low-Capacity Private Drinking Water Wells During Drought, G2188
Groundwater from aquifers supplies almost all household water use in Nebraska’s rural areas. When groundwater levels decline during a drought, efficient water use and good management of groundwater are particularly important.

Water Wise: Water Conservation In The Home, G2190
Efficient water use is important during periods of drought. Selecting water-efficient appliances and keeping fixtures in good working order can reduce the amount of water used in homes.