Sunday, July 25, 2010

SOS . . . Save Our Shrubs

June and July have been two of the hottest months on record and long-range forecasts predict above-average temperatures through October. All this heat is putting a terrible strain on our lawns, shrubs and trees. Although Princeton Landing has an irrigation system, it is old and temperamental. And what many of us may not realize is that our system is designed to water only the lawn areas.

This means that our shrubs and trees are in serious danger of dying due to lack of water. The only remedy for this problem is for homeowners to take responsibility for watering their own plantings. This may seem like an imposition, but our landscape is one of Princeton Landing’s most precious assets. The quality of our landscape affects the value of all of our homes. Dead shrubs do not make a good impression. Also, the shrubs and trees are owned by the Association. We pay for their upkeep through our monthly fees. If many plants have to be replaced, our fees will surely go up. None of us wants that. Watering now may save all of us money in the future.

Watering is not as time- consuming nor as difficult as it may seem. You only need to provide about an inch of water in one deep watering at least once each week. However, over the years the Landscape Committee has chosen to plant moisture-demanding plants such as rhododendrons throughout the community. If you have them around your home, they need to be watered more often.

Experts recommend preventing the soil from drying out completely, which will damage most plants. An easy way to check your soil’s dryness is to poke your finger about an inch into the soil around the base of the plant. If the soil feels cool and damp, the plant should be fine. If the soil is dry and crumbly, it’s time to water. It is best to water in the cool of the morning or early evening.

Be sure to water the soil, not the plant. Shrubs and trees should be watered around their drip line, the outer edge of the plant. Plants take up water though their roots, so make sure there is plenty of water in the soil for them to access.

Each of us can do a lot to improve the health and appearance of our landscape. And reaching that goal will benefit us all.
Jon Latimer