My family and I went camping last weekend - the first of hopefully many weekends away from the house. This was the
maiden voyage for the recently purchased pop-up camper, which is a luxury - albeit a very used luxury - that the family
has been wanting for a number of years.
It seems that whenever we go camping, it tends to rain. Over the last two years, our family and the tent have endured
a 6-inch snowstorm, 10-plus days of rain, sandstorms, and even a windstorm that toppled the tent with the kids in it.
So we were all done with it, and unless we are backpacking, my back isn't sleeping on the ground.
But this last weekend, we thought we would escape the incessant heat and dryness by cooling off with some lake-side
camping. However, to no one's surprise, the rains moved in Friday night and did not stop until late Saturday
The bright side was that we needed the rain, and surely the 2-plus inches of rain (and hail) that fell on us surely
made it to my parched landscape in Durango. But to my dismay, less than one-tenth of an inch fell at the house.
This dry hot-spell is starting to show its effects throughout the area - lawns going dormant, vegetable seeds not
germinating, strawberry plants wilting in the hot afternoon sun and even trees beginning to show fall colors as a
result of our environmental stressors.
In order to maintain a healthy landscape, it is important to irrigate efficiently, utilize water-wise plants, and to
understand your plant's reaction to environmental conditions.
The best time to water your landscape is between the hours of midnight to 9 a.m. Unless you see symptoms of drought, watering during the day is least efficient because of evaporation and daytime winds blowing the water off-target. For
your lawn, irrigate when footprints or mower tracks become visible and/or large areas of the lawn become blue-gray in
color. To avoid runoff from very heavy clay soil and/or a sloped lawn, you can water for a short period, then stop
and start back up again. This cycle make be as short as five minutes.
In the ornamental beds, use organic mulches. Mulching reduces evaporation from the soil surface and reduces
irrigation needs by about 50 percent.
In the vegetable bed, plant in a tightly spaced block-design rather than rows. This creates shade for the root
systems and reduces evaporation. Try to avoid the common practice of over-irrigating.
Do not group plants with different water needs together in the same irrigation zone. You will not be able to meet the
water needs of any of the plants, resulting in poor plant growth. "Hydrozone" plants by grouping those with similar
water needs together so they can be effectively watered for best plant health.
Lastly, if you want it to rain, put in a request for me to go camping.
I am willing to sacrifice my desk time, and if need be, I can go during the week and even to exotic locations. That's
just the type of person I am.
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 382-6464 Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata
County Extension Office.