July is Smart Irrigation Month, according to the Irrigation Association. Water when the temperature is cool, winds are calm, and the sun is low -- late afternoon or early morning. Watering midday wastes as much as 30 percent of the water through evaporation.
Water Deeply at Root Level
Use the simple hose end, a watering wand, or a nozzle with a gentle rain flow to saturate the soil under plants. Water till it puddles around the base of the plants. Let that soak into the soil, then water heavily again. I count very slowly to 10 or 15 while at each plant to make sure all get a good drink. Then let the soil dry out between waterings.
Hydrate for Your Health
Drink water before you begin gardening. And keep your water bottle or cool drink nearby to sip often while working. Dehydration can catch us unaware when we're preoccupied with weeding and deadheading in summer heat. Experts say when we feel thirsty, our body is already dehydrated. Early signs include a dry mouth and a decrease in energy that can quickly lead to cramps, headaches, and nausea. Be sure to drink fluids after working too, to replenish water lost while sweating.
Stop Planting Perennials, Shrubs, and Trees in Midsummer
With summer heat at our heels, it's best to temporarily stop planting unless you're willing to water almost daily. Transplants need time to get established, to grow new roots for food and water. July and August's sun, drought, and temperature extremes stress any plant. Give yourself (and belated transplants) a summer break. Wait till cooler temps to resume digging and adding to your ornamental beds.
Mind the Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has announced quarantine measures to control the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that destroys ash trees. The insect was detected for the first time in Pennsylvania. The quarantine is imposed for Butler, Lawrence, Allegheny, and Beaver counties but people in neighboring areas should be alert for the borer. The quarantine restricts moving ash nursery stock, green lumber, and any other ash material, including logs, stumps, roots, and branches, and all wood chips and hardwood firewood.
The beetle has been blamed for the death and decline of more than 20 million ash trees in Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, and Illinois since July 2002. Typically, emerald ash borer can kill an ash tree within three years of initial infestation.
People who suspect they have seen emerald ash borer should call the toll-free pest hotline at (866) 253-7189. For more information, call (717) 772-5229, or visit: http://www.emeraldashborer.info/.