|My rain gauge,|
late morning 14 Jun 2011:
In one fabled week back in 1999, Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd deposited 40-plus inches of rain on southeastern North Carolina. While that number verges on apocryphal, it still serves as an example of how precipitation precipitates out around here. Yearly rainfall totals on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts depend on tropical systems, and they are notoriously unreliable. We haven’t had such a dousing since Floyd. And we've been in drought to some degree or another since then, too.
|Sand all the way to China|
on Oak Island
(this is our neighbors' yard,
not the beach)
|Shredded cocoliners recycled |
from last fall's hayracks
make great mulch
|Drought-stressed centipede grass|
|Non-drought-stressed centipede grass|
|A mesic trio:|
plumbago (Plumbago auriculata),
black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) &
Texas sage (Salvia greggii)
|Mesic long-leaf aster|
|A xeric-once-established trio:|
catmint (Nepeta x faassenii),
ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) &
lantana (Lantana montevidensis)
|This droopy coleus alerts me|
to low soil-moisture
The bottom line of supplemental irrigation is the achievement of a one-to-one ratio between the amount of water a plant needs and what it actually receives. Which brings us at last to the crux of this whole watering issue—even if you have a perfectly installed and vigilantly programmed and maintained irrigation system, you still need to pay attention.
|Tim finger-testing |
the soil moisture in our
(the rain barrel in the background
is a teaser for next time)
There’s not a lot of information out there about how to best water lawns on sandy soils. Most sources advocate infrequent deep watering, which sand makes impossible. An inch a week is the rule-of-thumb recommendation; you’re advised to place empty tuna cans at various spots around the yard to measure how much water gets dispensed from the sprinkler or irrigation spray-heads. That’s ’way too much like work for me. I rely on watching the weather, scouting my plants for drought symptoms, and the stick-finger-in-dirt method to ascertain if I’m watering prudently.
A Water-Wise Quiz
1. Do you keep the tap running while you brush your teeth, shave, or wash the dishes?
2. Run the dishwasher (the machine, not the person) and/or the washing machine before they're fully loaded?
3. Shower for longer than five to seven minutes and/or run the water while you’re soaping up and shampooing?
4. Have dripping faucets inside or hose-bibs outside?
5. Hose off your sidewalks, patios and driveways instead of sweeping them?
6. Wash your car often?
7. Have a leaky or poorly maintained swimming pool?
8. Turn on the bathroom tap so the spoiled-rotten cat can get a drink but neglect to turn it off as soon as the young prince has finished? Tim? Sally?
9. For those of you with in-ground irrigation systems: Do your spray heads water the house, driveway or road?
10. Have you run the irrigation system during or just after statistically significant rain?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, stop doing it/them right now.
Next time: a colloquy on in-ground irrigation systems. Thanks for dropping by. Stay hydrated.