Experts say to prioritize plants before lawns in extreme heat
MILWAUKEE - After a week of temperatures rising near and beyond 100 degrees, many people's lawns and plants are in bad shape.
Despite many lawns turning yellow and brown, two experts suggest focusing less on the lawn and more on plants and trees.
"Keep a close eye on all your plants. Go outside, walk around, look at the trees and shrubs and make sure they're getting adequate water," suggested Joe Kresl, the owner of Hawk's Nursery, to Melissa McCrady on TODAY'S TMJ4's "Live at Daybreak."
"If you have a lot of trees, you may have to focus your energy on watering your plants and sacrifice the lawn," explained Seasonal Services owner Bret Achtenhagen, the host of Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Designer Yard Show," to Gene Mueller on "Wisconsin's Morning News."
Both experts gave a listing of most at-risk plants to keep an eye on.
"Perennials are at risk," said Kresl.
"Certainly, hydrangeas, but most especially new plantings. Anything planted in the last year needs a lot of extra attention. I'm seeing a lot of stress in plants that have been planted three to five years down the line."
"Young trees, things you have just recently planted, are going to be a lot more sensitive than something that's been well establish," said Achtenhagen.
"The thing you'll want to consider is (if) you're on clay soil or sand and gravel. Young trees need about 10-15 gallons of water a week. If you're in clay, that might mean you only need to water once or twice a week. If you're on sand and gravel, that might mean you'll need to water three to four times a week with this hot and dry weather."
What about those brown and yellow lawns that appear so parched?
"It's going to be a couple weeks before the grass is in jeopardy of dying," predicted Achtenhagen.
"If you have a lot of trees, focus on that. Otherwise, soak your grass once or twice a week and keep it alive. It's going to take a lot of work."
Both experts also said that in this hot weather, the lawns won't actually get a good amount of the water you might be spraying upon it with your sprinklers.
"Right now, this time of year with the sun as hot as it is, 50 percent of the water actually evaporates before it soaks into the ground," admitted Kresl.
"The best thing to do is water early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is down."
When it comes to trees, Achtenhagen also suggests dropping the sprinkler and going with the direct hose treatment.
"A mature tree, let it soak for several hours, let it soak the roots and seem into the ground. Don't use sprinklers. So much of that evaporates."
He also explains not to try and put a new plant in the ground in this dry heat.
"I would avoid trying to plant anything right now, especially if you can wait until fall."