(ARA) - Water is one of the most important and precious natural resources necessary for garden and lawn health. Now that planting is in full swing, getting plants established while using water wisely is essential for a successful growing season.
With a few simple tips, plants can be better prepared to withstand even the toughest weather, and use water more effectively. Follow these steps to keep gardens and landscaping lively and colorful when the temperatures climb, even if Mother Nature is sprinkling less.
* Build great soil: Improve growth and moisture control by uniformly mixing in rich organic matter when planting the garden. A rich garden soil, such as Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Garden Soil, helps protect plants from over- or under-watering by holding onto to moisture and releasing it as needed, while providing enough air space in the soil for roots to grow and breathe.
* Outdoor potted plants: Use Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix in pots and containers to help container plants make the most of the water they receive. Larger pots help keep plants from becoming root-bound quickly and thirsting for water. The more room plants have to grow, the less water is needed.
* Mulch everything: Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch around all plants - vegetables, shrubs, perennials and flowers (even in containers). Mulching helps reduce evaporation from the soil surface and soil crusting that can reduce water infiltration. This helps keep more moisture in the soil longer for plants and keeps water-stealing weeds away by blocking access to sunlight.
* Timely and gentle feeding: Miracle-Gro LiquaFeed combines watering with gentle feeding for all your flowers, vegetables, perennials, shrubs and even containers. It's the convenient way to nourish plants with both water and plant nutrients during dry conditions.
* Water wisely: Water after planting and when needed (before leaves wilt). If you do not already have one, consider installing a drip irrigation system to keep plants from drying out. When additional watering is necessary, do so in the morning between the hours of 6 and 10 a.m. to reduce effects of wind on sprinkler uniformity and reduce losses from evaporation.
Keep grass in tip-top shape while keeping the watering to a minimum. It is simple to do, just follow these easy guidelines.
* Set your mower at the right height: Mowing at the right height makes your lawn stronger to withstand heat or drought better. For specific grass types, mow:
Bermuda grass: Mower height at about 1.5 inches, a low wheel setting
Zoysiagrass: Mower height at 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches, a middle wheel setting
St. Augustine/Tall Fescue/Buffalograss/Bluegrass: Mower height at 3 to 4 inches, a high wheel setting
* Water judiciously: Listen for the weekly weather forecast - there is no need to water if rain is on the way soon. Water only if needed or when establishing new grass. Lawns can tolerate dry spells by going dormant for up to two months. Water during dry spells if the lawn gets activity from kids or pets. When watering, water deeply, but only once or twice a week.
* Timely feeding is everything
Well-nourished grass withstands stress better than a hungry, under-fed lawn. Feed regularly with a lawn food formulated specifically for grass. Feeding with a lawn food earlier in the season strengthens the lawn to better withstand dry conditions and heat.
Keep these tips in mind this summer and you will feel great knowing that you have done your part to conserve one of our most precious resources - water.