Leaf burning and scorching.

August 6, 2010

It’s been a hot summer! With the exception of a few rainy—very rainy—days, Milwaukee hasn’t seen too many occasions where sprinklers and water cans weren’t necessary. Keep your plants, flowers and grass in healthy working order by watering on a set schedule.

If you see your leaves start to have a “burned” or “scorched” look, it’s from one of two reasons: improper watering or improper fertilization. Since both over watering and under watering can damage plant leaves, the best solution is to water deeply and infrequently. This allows oxygen in the soil, washes salts away and encourages deep rooting.

For most trees and shrubs older than three years, water deeply once every seven to 10 days (Run your drip system one to three hours to soak the root zone). Newer plants may need water twice as often until established. Add a layer of surface mulch 2- to 4-inches thick to conserve water between waterings and cool and enrich the soil.

Make sure you have the right fertilizer both for your specific plants and for the time of year. Some fertilizers release much faster in hot weather, increasing the potential for damage. Follow package directions exactly and err on the conservative side. Then, irrigate well to move nutrients to the soil.

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