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Dig Right Minute

Maintaining a lush garden and lawn isn’t always as simple as relying on Mother Nature and regular rains. This time of year, even a few days without rainfall can impact plants and grass. Watering wisely and properly can ensure beautiful surroundings while not draining precious resources.

  • Keep an eye on the newbies: If you’ve planted any new perennials, shrubs, perennials or grass seed this year, be sure to watch and water those areas more often. If the soil in or around the new growth looks dry or cracked, water accordingly.
  • Location, location, location:  Plants along your house or under eaves may need some more watering than those in other areas. Those under eaves or roofs may not get as much direct rainfall, while plants along a foundation tend to dry faster because they are near structures that absorb heat.
  • Avoid oversaturation: Water lawns if the color is fading or turning yellow and if soil in planters is dry. If you see puddles around the base of a plant or tree, stop watering until it has a chance to soak in.
  • Root of the matter: Keep in mind that trees, shrubs and other perennials with deeper roots require longer watering time than those with more shallow roots, like geraniums. Soaker hoses are good for some of these plantings. Consider adding mulch around trees and shrubs to maintain the moisture in the soil.
  • If you want to conserve water, think about what and where you are planting. Lawns are beautiful – and also take up a lot of water for irrigation. In some parts of your lawn, you can use groundcovers and mulch to replace turf, balancing beauty and conservation.  Another way to conserve water is use sprinklers between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., because that reduces evaporation and sprinklers are more effective with less wind. Be on the lookout for leaks, so you aren’t losing water. Don’t turn on sprinklers in the rain. Consider a rain barrel or other rainwater harvesting system.

  • Be cool with water: If your hose is sitting in the hot sun, the water will be warm – if not hot – and can potentially damage plants. Store hoses in cool areas so the water temperature is optimal for watering.

  • Be mindful of any water restrictions in your community, such as assigned times and dates for sprinklers and watering.

Don’t forget to contact JULIE before you dig! Whenever you’re disturbing the ground, especially when planting trees, shrubs, groundcovers or plants, be safe and contact JULIE at 811 or enter your request online using E-Request at www.Illinois1Call.com. It’s free and crucial to avoid hitting underground lines, even in areas where you assume it’s safe to dig.

Dig Right Minute
by Tony Abruscato
Director, Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Sponsored in part by JULIE, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show presents realistic and DIY solutions to inspire, educate and motivate gardening enthusiasts and newbies alike, all year long.  The show blooms at Navy Pier from March 20 - 24, 2019.