Thursday, June 28, 2012

Landscaping Tips for the Texas Heat

It’s July in Texas. What does that mean? It’s H-O-T!!!! The hottest part of summer isn’t even here yet, and it already topped 100 degrees several days in June. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, friends. When the only thing us humans can think of is jumping in some cool water or icing down some drinks, this is when our plants need us most.

Surprisingly, some of the greenest parts of our planet are in the tropics (think rainforest) where it’s even hotter than Houston. So that must mean that plants like the heat. The biggest difference between the tropics and the desert is really moisture, not heat. So we can deduce that heat is not our plants’ enemy, it’s the lack of moisture.

So the answer is just to water more during the summer and your landscaping will flourish, right? It’s true that watering will help, but you also must consider the amount of moisture in the air (called humidity). Watering your landscaping can increase the humidity at the time, but it doesn’t last long. The optimum time to water is in the morning because humidity is at its highest and temperatures are at their lowest. But by noon, any moisture in the air you created by watering will have evaporated and all that’s left is whatever humidity is in the air for that day. Even thought the Houston area is known for high humidity, it’s still not enough to nourish your plants. And don’t forget about wind. When wind speeds increase, which is often at the peak afternoon heat times, the moisture in the air is blown away. You’d have to accomplish an awful lot of watering in order to offset these effects of nature.

What can you do to help your landscaping during the hottest months?

  • Choose native and drought resistant plants. Look around at the plants that grow in the Houston area, and you will see many that thrive in this environment. You just need to be selective and smart in deciding what plants are right for your yard. There are lots of native and well adapted plants that can survive with normal rainfall amounts and little extra care. Try to use them for the majority of your landscaping.
  • Consider compost. It can improve the nutrient and water holding ability of soils. It’s a great fertilizer for any plants. You can add compost to the top of your lawn and flower beds, and use it as part of the top layer of new plantings.
  • Mulch! Soil without mulch on top gets hot and dries out fast. Even using rock or gravel helps reflect heat and hold in moisture. It’s even better to use organic mulches because they break down and feed the soil.
  • Water smartly. Intermittent deep soaking is what most plants need. Check out our April 2012 blog on watering that contains lots of helpful information about watering techniques.

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