Ask Burton: Why are my plants struggling? I’m watering all the time.

The past month’s weather has been much hotter than normal, which isn’t news to anyone who has poked their nose outside their front door lately. But extreme temperatures and the moderate-to-severe drought conditions we’re under can hammer even an established landscape. Today, we’re not talking about new plantings, but the extra maintenance your established landscape would appreciate right now.

Shrub Beds: Manually run each section of your sprinkler system to check for proper function. Well established plants don’t need TLC, but they do need adequate amounts of water and a broken sprinkler head can take a toll before you notice shrubs in distress. Freshen up mulch covers which have thinned more than they should. Give individual plants showing stress some love with the water hose. If you don’t see anything in the landscape that needs a bit of extra watering right now, look again. There’s probably something.

Trees: Mature trees generally get enough water from rainfall and your lawn sprinkler system. Drought conditions, like those we are experiencing currently, change things! Once every two to four weeks (depending on the tree’s maturity), take some time and let your water hose slowly soak the soil inside the tree’s drip line. It will take quite a while to do this properly, and several moves of the hose around the area will be needed. Just a handful of waterings during a drought summer will keep your trees in good health, and a good hard rain does count. If it just sprinkles, still plan to soak your trees occasionally.

The Lawn: Water twice a week—and do a thorough job of it— running the sprinklers long enough to soak the soil well. An established lawn will survive just fine on one or two waterings a week. One keeps it in good health, the second keeps it decently green and good looking. Anything more is costly and a waste of precious water.

And Overall… Don’t stress if otherwise healthy shrubs and trees kick a few leaves, or if banana plants and elephant ears show some scalded leaves here and there. It’s fine if your lawn is not all emerald green right now! Water well, water sensibly, and don’t sweat the smaller issues. As long as you keep your plants from major drought stress, they’ll recover when the temperatures return to normal.