Akehurst Landscape Service

What Does This Summer’s Heat And Dry Weather Do To My Landscape?


The last several weeks, central Maryland has experienced numerous days of intense heat.  To add insult to injury, rainfall has been spotty or non-existent for much of our service area.  This lack of rain combined with the summer heat can have detrimental effects to the aesthetics as well as survivability of the plants found in your landscape.  Plants and turf varieties are generally made up of 80-90% water.  Which means that staying hydrated, like most life forms is essential for survival.

With days of intense heat and lack of rainfall, the trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals in your landscape may begin to show signs of stress.  Wilting, curling of leaves and yellowing, browning and dropping of leaves are tell tale signs of stress that your landscape is undergoing as a result of the weather.  When drought conditions are pro-longed, your landscape plants and trees may suffer temporary or permanent damage.

Combating dry weather.

On a good note, the mulch that we applied to your trees and plant beds in the spring not only makes your landscape look good, but it also provides great benefits to the plants it surrounds during the summer weather.  The layer of mulch creates a small barrier that will aid in conserving soil moisture and will also help to moderate the soil temperature as excessive soil temperatures can also damage root systems.

Non irrigated turf showing signs of dry weather.

Turf types of the tall fescue variety most prominently utilized in central Maryland can withstand drought conditions unless they were newly seeded or sodded.  One sure way to determine that your turf is under drought stress is any grass that when stepped on does not spring back up after the foot is removed.  (It is best to keep foot traffic to a minimum if not removed all together during the times of drought to prevent damage to it.)  Your grass may turn brown and become dormant during a drought, but will green up and grow again when cooler, wet weather returns.  Irrigating turf will help offset the effects of drought to your lawns.  However, your irrigation needs to run long enough to thoroughly saturate the entire root zone depth.  Frequent light watering is harmful to your turf grass as it will promote a shallow root system.  If it was newly planted via seed or sod, it will require frequent watering during a drought as it is not fully established.


Tips and Recommendations:


In the case of a mild drought, we recommend that all above ground planters, annual plantings be watered two to three times per week as well as any newly installed plants that may not have completely established their root systems yet.   (Generally anything planted in the last 12 months.)  Enough water needs to be applied to saturate the soil for trees and shrubs to a depth of 4 to 6”.  Any soil that a person can not squeeze into a ball that holds its shape when let go is not desirable.  Adequate moisture in the soil will help the ball retain its shape.  Soil moisture content can quickly vary and be site specific on the same property depending on the type of soil that is present.  A sandy soil compared to soil with more clay does not have the properties to hold water and therefore may require more frequency in watering.

When a severe drought takes place, Akehurst advises that a plan of importance be implemented.  Plants that are valuable; in terms of replacement cost, sentimental value or prominence in your landscape should be monitored frequently.  Water should be applied as often as needed to insure their survivability.

In some instances, areas of turf may die as a result of drought conditions.  Akehurst recommends that all turf areas be aerated and over seeded with grass seed annually in the fall to offset any turf damage caused by the summer weather.

Akehurst is here to assist you with your watering needs.  Several trucks within our fleet are equipped with water tanks.  We routinely provide watering services to our customers ensuring that their landscape aesthetics remain when the rains do not fall.  Should you have any questions concerning drought effects on your landscape or desire an assessment of your plantings please contact us.

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