Is Your Yard Monsoon Ready?
By Warren Tenney
Monsoon season has officially begun. As everyone takes precautions to ensure they remain safe during the storm season, it is also important to prepare your yard so it is monsoon ready. We want to make sure all the hard work you have put into your private oasis, is not washed away.
Here are some tips to help you protect your yard this monsoon season:
Prune your trees less. This is the most important part of keeping your trees healthy enough to withstand a storm. The less you prune a tree the stronger it will grow, that’s why it’s so important to select the right-sized tree for the right space. Leave lower branches on a young tree. Those little branches are feeding lower sections of the tree and give a mature tree heft on the bottom. Don’t “thin” a tree by removing all the greenery in the middle and leaving foliage only on the outer ends of branches. This mistake is called “lion tailing.” During a high wind these branches will bend at a weak spot and be more likely to snap off. You can learn more about pruning a tree here.
Support your trees. Swaying in the wind can help young trees grow stronger but the wind also can uproot them if they are not staked properly. To properly stake a tree use two stakes six inches from the trunk and gently attach them to the trunk with looped ties that allow the tree to sway in the wind. Allowing the tree to move with the wind creates a dense wood and strong trunk that will help keep mature trees standing despite the weather.
Check your irrigation system. Many homeowners trust their yard to an automated irrigation controller. Electrical storms can get your irrigation timer off schedule or even set your controller back to a default schedule or even cause irreparable damage. While the controller may be reliable, your pipes, sprinkler heads and drip lines are less so. Drip lines are particularly susceptible to weather. High temperatures, dust, and rain can clog, crack and break emitters and lines so each time that reliable controller comes on plants don’t get watered or gallons of wasted water pools in your yard. Pooling water gives mosquitoes a place to breed, wastes your money and everyone’s water. Check sprinkler heads for damage. Grass and leaves also can clog sprinkler heads. If you leave for part or most of the summer, make sure a neighbor, friend, family member, or a gardener regularly walks your yard while the irrigation system is running and is prepared to spot and stop any leaks. AMWUA’s Smart Home Water Guide can help.
Utilize the rainwater. If it rained about a half inch in your neighborhood, you can turn off your watering system. That saves you money on your water bill and saves water for all of us. Better yet, you also can contour your yard to help your plants and trees get the most out of each storm. Sunken gardens and deep wells around your trees help to slow, to spread and to sink rainwater instead of allowing it to run off your property. It’s the simplest rain harvesting technique and takes nothing more than a shovel, a little energy and thoughtful placement of plants. Consider this - one inch of rain on a 1,000 square-foot roof produces 600 gallons of runoff. In the Valley we typically receive about an average of seven inches of rain in a year.
Now that you know some simple tips to prepare your yard for the storm season, it is also important to remember that the high winds that accompany a monsoon are powerful and can cause additional damage to your yard. Items such as patio furniture can become airborne and not only damage your existing landscape but even worse could end up flying into a neighbor’s yard. So, prior to a storm move lawn cushions, umbrellas and light furniture into the house or garage to avoid unwanted damage.
There is still time to prepare before the storms start to hit so make sure you do. In the end it will give you peace of mind and protect your yard. That way you can sit back and enjoy the rain and cooler evenings that monsoon season brings.
For 50 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit www.amwua.org.
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