Managing Drought in the Landscape – FAQs

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Q: Do I need to water?

A: Maybe, but it depends on the type of plant. Permanently established landscape plants like lawns, trees, shrubs and perennials are more forgiving and can tolerate dry spells better than newly established plants. Annuals like vegetables, seasonal flowers, and many containerized plants may require more frequent applications of water. In addition, any plant that is producing a crop or is being grown for performance (ex. Athletic turf, fruiting trees and shrubs, priority screens) may also need supplemental water to avoid performance loss.

Q: How much water should I apply?

A: A general rule of thumb for most plants is 1 inch of water per week. Use a rain gauge to help determine when and how much water is needed. If left unwatered, permanently established plants like lawns and trees may become dormant and turn brown, but will recover with rainfall.

Q: When is the best time of day to water?

A: Early morning is the absolute best time to water. If you’re unable to water in the morning, try to avoid mid-day when evaporation loss is high. Watering in the evening is best if the water can be directly applied to the soil, and avoid wetting the leaves.

Q: What else can I do?

A: Group plants in the landscape based on water needs. That way you’re not over or under applying resources. You can also cut back on fertilizer; this will lessen the need for water. Applying mulch will help retain moisture, even in the vegetable garden. Use timers and drip irrigation for maximum effectiveness. You can monitor drought conditions at ncdrought.org .