BLESSINGS IN BLOOM: Precious Water
By Kerry Peetz
It’s time to pray for rain. Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, according to a recent report from the U.S. Drought Monitor. are getting drier by the day. As of April 26, 2022, 45.4% of the U.S. and 54.2% of the lower 48 states are in drought.
What does this mean for our diocese? To start with, water restrictions are in place from May 1 to Oct. 15. You may water up to three days a week (you choose the days). Water before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. Don’t let water pool on hard surfaces or flow down gutters. Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days. Use a shut-off nozzle when using a hose. Clean hard surfaces (such as driveways and sidewalks) only if there is a public health and safety concern. If you are found in violation you could be fined up to $100.
Hand watering of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and vegetable gardens may occur on any day. It is extremely important to water before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. because of the rate of evaporation during the warmest part of the day. Do not irrigate when it’s raining or windy. Water trees and shrubs deeply and infrequently; this will increase the plant’s drought tolerance.
Due to Colorado’s high intensity sunlight, low humidity, temperature extremes, windy conditions, and challenging soil characteristics, growing and maintaining a healthy landscape can be difficult even when drought conditions are not present.
Here are a few recommendations from Colorado State University to help our plants survive with less water:
Use the mower’s highest setting to promote healthy root growth. Mow frequently enough to only remove one-third of the grass blade to prevent stress (1-2 times per week). Let clippings recycle back onto the lawn rather than bagging them up. This provides additional nutrients. Keep a sharp mower’s blade for a clean cut. Mow when the grass is dry to prevent disease. Core aerate once or twice per year in spring and/or fall to provide oxygen to the soil and encourage deeper roots. Don’t forget to water 24-48 hours before aerating to encourage deeper core removal. Fertilize mid-spring, early fall and late fall to sustain steady growth throughout the year. Use a fertilizer with nitrogen; both traditional and organic types work. Avoid weed-and-feed formulas.
Annuals and Perennials
Flowers under water stress will have drooping leaves and a lack of blooms. Foliage often appears gray-green in color. Water when signs of stress become obvious. Apply irrigation in the evening or early morning, again, to minimize evaporation.
Overhead spray irrigation is the least efficient water-wise method, as much water is lost to evaporation and wind drift. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation are more efficient because they deliver water to the ground level near roots. Hand watering is another alternative that maximizes delivery of water to the soil and roots.
Planting for the future
Choose native and drought-tolerant, water-wise plants (plants are not drought tolerant until their roots are established in the soil). Recognize the water requirements of the plants in your landscape and use only the water that they need. To conserve water spread mulch, 1 to 2 inches deep on the soil surface between and around plants to reduce water evaporation and prevent weeds.
Implementing long standing water-wise principles is one way we all can responsibly and efficiently use water. Healthy plants provide better air quality, decrease our energy needs and provide shelter and food for wildlife.
What a gift from God it would be to have to dust off our umbrellas again. Pray!