There’s no doubt about it, we are now in a major drought in parts of the area, with everywhere below average for rainfall. This summer’s drought, while not the worst on record, is coming on the heels of a dry year in 2015. The last time we had a wet year was 2011, so things have been trending drier for a while.

This week more heat and humidity will continue to exacerbate the drought. While there were a few showers last weekend, it’s going to take many days of showers to begin to make a dent in our rain deficit. The soil in some areas is becoming hydrophobic, meaning the soil will actually repel the water. Soil becomes hydrophobic after long periods of dry weather and soil without organic matter is especially susceptible.

Dry or drought conditions continue through much of Maine

Dry or drought conditions continue through much of Maine

Whether you have a pot of petunias or acres of landscaping there are some key things you should be doing to get your plants through any drought.

After days or weeks of dry weather, you’ll likely need to water much heavier than you think you should. Check the moisture level of the soil at least 3 inches deep. Having the top of the soil moist is nice, but the roots of your plants aren’t up there.

Watering in the middle of the day is the worst time to water. The best time to water plants is just before or just after sunrise. The reason is there is very little evaporation at that time so the bulk of the water will go to the plants, not back into the atmosphere.

You might think watering in the evening would also be good and it’s OK as long as the leaves aren’t getting wet. The issue with wet leaves overnight is they promote disease. If you can use drip irrigation that will maximize the water the most.

A good way to gauge how much water you need to give your plants is to put out a rain gauge. You should be giving them half an inch of rain twice each week or a third of an inch every three days. If you don’t have a rain gauge use an empty tuna can. When full it holds about an inch of rain.

This is also a good way to check how much rain falls naturally. Many times during a shower there is much less rain than you think and you still need to water.

Lawns under stress from drought should not be fed or treated for weeds or insects. Fertilizer products can do damage to a dormant lawn and the fertilizer will just wash away when it rains.

So basically, during these dry conditions you want to: water less often, but give more of it when you do water; water early in the morning and keep the leaves as dry as possible; don’t fertilize during a drought.