How to maintain your garden in the midst of a drought – URI News


KINGSTON, RI – August 1, 2022 – For backyard gardeners, mild droughts and common water ban restrictions during the summer months can be cause for concern. Kate Venturini Hardesty, program administrator and educator at the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extensionoffers some tips for home gardeners feeling the heat.

Let your lawn rest.

“Your lawn is on summer vacation,” she said. “The lawns are supposed to go dormant in July and August. Many types of grass are perennial species, so they depend on a break, just like the herbaceous perennials in our gardens. When we don’t allow them to rest, they are weaker, just like you and me without a good night’s sleep. Not watering the lawn saves a huge amount of water. Although this may mean that your lawn is brown instead of a bright green, it will benefit its overall health.

Don’t mow your lawn too low.

Mowing your lawn too low will also have a negative impact on it. You don’t want to be your neighborhood golf course – the higher your grass, the healthier it will be.

“Mow high,” she said. “The higher your mower is set, the deeper roots can go underground to access soil moisture.” Deeper grass roots result in stronger, healthier grass.

Remember to water as early in the day as possible and know which plants are best for your garden. Plants native to your area will usually do best. (URI Photo/Nora Lewis)

Water your crops and gardens as early in the day as possible.

When it comes to watering your plants, the earlier you can do it, the better.

“Don’t water any other time than in the morning,” she explained. “This gives the plants time to absorb the water before it evaporates.” If you water at midday, you will lose a lot of water through evaporation. If you water in the evening after sunset, you risk causing fungal problems for your plants, which is not good for their health. Watering in the morning allows moisture to be absorbed into the root zone before the sun gets too high.

Mulch your garden beds.

This is especially important for vegetable gardens. Mulch traps moisture in the soil and discourages evaporation.

“Making sure the soil is covered with some type of mulch that will retain moisture is one of the best things you can do for your vegetable plants. Most are annuals from other parts of the world and need extra water every day in the heat of summer,” she said, “so anything you can do to keeping it is good”.

Know which plants are best for your garden.

When it comes to designing and planning your gardens and landscaping, it is essential that you know which plants are best suited for your space. Plants native to your area will generally fare better because they have evolved and are able to adapt to how your local climate changes at the micro and macro levels.

“If you look at the landscape, it’s the plants in Asia and Europe that aren’t doing as well,” she said, “because they’re like ‘where am I? “”

The types of plants that are best to plant vary from garden to garden depending on a variety of factors including sun exposure, solid health, and drainage. Before planting, do your research.

“A simple site assessment exercise can help you gather information about available sunlight and water, wind exposure, soil drainage and health, and more,” he said. she declared. “The more information you have, the easier it is to choose plants that can tolerate your site’s climate. It’s an initial investment that pays off in the long run.

Venturini Hardesty said on average, New England tends to get about 45 inches of rain per year. If the average rain per week is about an inch, that leaves about seven weeks without rain – which is almost the entire length of July and August.

The changes that climate change will bring to home gardeners — and to growing and planting as a whole — will need to be addressed regionally, not in individual backyards, she explained. However, it is never too early to prepare.

“In a way, a drought exacerbates a condition that already exists during the summer,” she said, “so adapting to a drought expecting it to be one of best defenses we have because I don’t think it’s going to go away.” .”

Gardeners are encouraged to use the resources offered by the cooperative extension to help the healthy development of their plants. They can contact for free Gardening and Environment Helpline staffed by URI Master Gardener volunteers by phone at 401-874-4836 weekdays from 10-2 or by email at or send in soil samples for free soil pH testing through October 31 . Commercial growers are encouraged to contact the URI Plant Protection Clinic at 401-874-2900 for help with plant pests and diseases. For more information, please visit

Mary Lind, a graduate student working for URI’s marketing and communications department, wrote this release.


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