Ask The County Agent: Are there any watering restrictions in Coweta?
By Stephanie Butcher, Coweta County Extension Office
Question: Are there any watering restrictions right now for Coweta County? Things are beginning to dry out after the spring rains, and I need to water my plants.
Agent: There are currently no odd-even restrictions on outdoor water use, but you should take steps to conserve water and follow our permanent year-round outdoor watering restrictions, which limits outdoor watering to before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. daily. This avoids the hottest part of the day when more evaporation occurs.
If we see drought conditions this summer, then additional water restrictions aren’t the only threat to green Georgia lawns. The searing summer heat will scorch landscapes across the state.
If your landscape plants begin taking a beating from the heat, they’ll send out signals. Hydrangeas and impatiens in your flower beds are the poster plants for heat and drought stress. If they look droopy, take this as a sign that all your plants need water.
Cut back and help roots
If your annuals and perennials continue to be heat stressed, cut them back about halfway. If they are wilting badly, cutting them back will help them survive.
Reducing the plant’s top will place less demand on its roots. The plant will come back in a few weeks and bloom again in the fall.
The same strategy works for woody ornamentals like gardenias or hydrangeas. Cut them back to one-half or one-third of their normal size.
When summer brings dry weather and heat for more than 20 days, which often happens here in Georgia, decide which of your plants are most valuable and focus on those. For example, herbaceous plants can be easily replaced, but trees and shrubs usually need the most water and are more expensive to replace.
Water fescue first
Flowers aren’t the only plants that suffer from heat stress. Your home lawn suffers, too.
If your lawn is fescue, you must keep it watered if you want it to survive. Fesuce is a cool season grass and suffers terribly in extremely hot, dry weather. Bermuda and many other grasses go semi-dormant and turn a little yellow when heat- and drought-stressed. Bermudagrass recovers very well and bounces back quickly with a little drink of water from the first rainfall.
Lawns need about an inch of water per week. The best time to water is early in the morning.
The best way to manage turfgrass during the dog days of summer is by following these tips:
• Raise the cutting height within the recommended mowing range
• Reduce fertilize applications until conditions improve
• Modify herbicide programs during high temperatures and moisture stress
• Water deeply and infrequently
Having said all this, it’s worth noting that one of the most common landscape problems that I see during a drought is something you might not expect – overwatering. Many people have a tendency to overwater plants when it’s dry. The soil should be moist, not wet.
For more information about watering restrictions, email [email protected] or call 770-254-2620. Ask for the current outdoor water use rules and landscape management publications.
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Photo Credit: UGA CAES/Extension