Drought Alert

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
This is not my preferred way to close out 2017, but it’s an important message for the long term health of your landscape. As of last week, our region was one of only a few shrinking areas in the state that not yet under official drought status. With no signs of appreciate moisture in the long term forecast, now would be a good time to consider dragging out the water hoses if you have a landscape that is susceptible to drought or winter cold injury.

While a mature landscape may do just fine without any supplemental irrigation at this time, chances are good it might benefit if any of the following apply:

  • Fall seeded plants.This includes but is not limited to turfgrass seed, winter cover crops, and wildflower mixes.
  • Any immature landscape plants installed within the last year or so. For trees, go ahead any consider anything within the last two or three years immature just to be on the safe side. A new tree is a significant investment and taking care of it while it’s young can pay big dividends as it grows.
  • Evergreen shrubs and trees, even if they are been in the ground for years. Dry winters kill more evergreen landscape plants in our region than the hottest of summers. Since these plants do ever go completely dormant, they must have some moisture to remain healthy.
  • While no longer live plants, compost piles can also use an occasional drink of water to keep the decomposition process moving along.

When this subject comes up, it is not uncommon to get resistance from homeowners who’ve paid to have their irrigation systems winterized. Unless you have a very large landscape, it shouldn’t be necessary to pressure up an irrigation system at this point. A hose and sprinkler should do the job just fine since a good soaking will last several weeks this time of year. Just don’t forget that it is still winter time and take the necessary precautions of disconnecting hoses anytime the weather is close to freezing.

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at
keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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