Abnormally Dry

As we look out in the nursery, we see that our lawn–normally lush and green in early June–is thin and brown. When we dig holes to plant trees, we’re finding dry soil. It’s been a drier than normal spring with temperatures this last week a little higher than normal. For gardeners, this means that it’s time to be extra diligent about watering, especially with new plants.

We have detailed watering instructions here: https://hillcrestgardens.net/resources/.

We encourage gardeners to monitor weather trends, especially precipitation. The National Weather Service posts a 3-day weather summary for the Norwood airport. Our average rainfall is about 1″ per week. Half an inch of rain is usually considered a soaking rainfall, though when soil is very dry, it might take several soaking rainfalls to restore soil moisture to normal levels. When the soil is dry, a few tenths of an inch doesn’t make much of a difference for long on a hot summer day. Remember also that with new plants, roots balls usually dry out faster than surrounding soil. Until roots grow out and integrate into surrounding soil, new plants will usually need watering more frequently than established plants.

Summer showers are often very localized. A simple rain gauge is a good way to monitor rainfall amounts in your yard.

Empty rain gauge . . . and bone dry soil.

Another good resource is the US Drought Monitor, which publishes a weekly map showing drought conditions in each state. This week’s map shows abnormally dry conditions in much of northeastern and central Massachusetts. Norfolk County isn’t officially in the yellow (abnormally dry) area, but unless we get some soaking rain soon, expect to see a much larger yellow area next week.

Finally, we always give the warning not to rely on automatic sprinkler systems to meet the water needs of new plants. Automatic systems can help, but blind reliance without monitoring and testing can lead to a lot of plant loss. We also encourage occasional deep waterings with a hose to promote deep root growth.