Protecting Your Landscape During Hot, Dry Conditions

Posted: July 16, 2012

Most of the water entering the plant through its roots is lost through pores or tomatoes in its leaves as water vapor, a process called transpiration...

Only 15 percent of the absorbed water stays in the plant to support physiological activities and growth. If more water leaves the plant than enters it, then the plant has water deficit (stress).

During drought, the soil becomes progressively drier. The plant becomes increasingly less able to extract water from the soil. Each day leads to an increase in plant water stress. Eventually the stress is so great that injury and perhaps death may occur.

Besides watering your landscape plants in the early morning when it is cool, there are several ways to conserve water.

•    Add or incorporate organic matter or compost deep into your soils before you plant.  Organic matter will improve soil structure, creating lots of small pores that hold water.

•    Apply mulch to your landscape.  Mulch will act as a physical barrier to water vapor loss by evaporation, prevents soil temperature extremes, and suppresses weeds that compete for water and nutrients.  Only mulch to a depth of 2-3 inches.

•    Reduce the size of your lawn.  Lawns can require large amounts of water to remain green during a drought.  Consider planting native wildflowers or meadows in some areas, or converting to landscape beds with drought tolerant trees, shrubs or perennials.  Less mowing will mean less fuel consumed and more time for other activities – like gardening.

•    Capture rainwater by installing rain barrels to your roof down-spouts.  The water captured can be used to water your landscape beds through drip hose irrigation.

•    Plant more drought tolerant plant species, especially in areas that receive more sun, such as south and west of buildings and steep slopes.  

•    Water your landscape plants once a week with deep soakings instead of using overhead sprinklers that can lose as much as 50 percent water to evaporation.  Water in the early morning or late afternoon when it is cool and less windy.

For more information about the impacts of drought on landscapes visit