I saw the sprinklers going at a local business while I was on my way to work today. April 5 and we already need the sprinkler systems up and running in Plymouth, Minnesota. What an amazing spring. It doesn’t look like we’re in a drought situation, but we are.
We had been in a long term drought before last spring. Spring 2011 was incredibly wet and all that moisture relieved the drought problem and brought us up to normal. So much for normalcy. Late summer and fall were again exceptionally dry. On top of that was our nowhere-near-normal accumulation of snow last winter. All that combined has set us back in a moderate to severe drought situation in the Twin Cities metro area.
Our unusual early spring has brought us some rain along with the warm temperatures, but not enough. Everything is greening up nicely but plants breaking dormancy require warm temperatures, sunlight, and moisture. All this growth activity is using moisture in the soil.
What do you need to do? Bring the hoses out, turn on the outside water, find the sprinklers, and get ready to water. Your lawn and the plants in your landscape generally require an inch of water per week. If we are lucky, nature will provide. If not, it’s up to us. If you aren’t sure how you will know when you have given your lawn or plants an inch of water from the sprinkler, check out our Dundee Fact Sheet on Lawn Watering. The Fact Sheet will tell you how to measure it, plus some other useful watering information.
A long, slow soak is always best. Two days straight of gentle rain might put a crimp in your outdoor activities, but it’s the best thing you can ask for when it comes to your plants. The ground gets saturated, water percolates down, and more water is stored at a greater depth. Torrential downpours mostly run off into the storm sewers. When you water, make sure you go for the long soak and not the quick sprinkle.
If you weren’t watering your plants last fall until the deciduous plants went dormant or the ground froze for your evergreens, you should be out there now making sure your plants get that one inch per week. Everyone else should monitor the precipitation we’re getting and be prepared to combat drought with spring watering. April showers bring May flowers, but there aren’t many chances of rain forecast anytime soon.