Dealing with the drought: What plants get water priority

Backyard Q&A

August 25, 2002|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,Special to the Sun

Q. The water restrictions in Baltimore have made it impossible for me to water everything in my yard. Do you have any suggestions to help with watering?

A. Watering of lawns is prohibited and so is the use of sprinklers and sprinkler systems. This means that most watering will have to be done by hand.

I would start by watering the plants in which you have made a long-term investment. I would water shade trees first, and then I would water small ornamental trees, shrubs and perennials, in that order.

Most trees and shrubs can be watered with a soaker hose. This is a form of drip irrigation, which is permitted under the water restrictions. Soaker hoses could also be used to water small perennial beds if they are snaked through the bed.

If you do not already have one, I strongly recommend that you purchase a water timer. It is attached to your faucet and will shut off your water supply after a set period of time. Water timers can be purchased for $10 to $15 and will last for a number of years.

I would continue watering plants in containers, but I would stop watering large beds of annuals. It is simply not worth the effort. They will have to be replanted next year anyway.

Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site,


1. Leggy annual flowers, such as petunias, can be trimmed back now and will produce a new flush of growth and flowers in early fall.

2. Mulched plants need to be watered extra deeply -- the mulch soaks up water.

3. To prepare blackberries and raspberries for next year, remove all canes that fruited this summer. Also, prune out and discard all dead and damaged canes. Thin out first-year canes to allow a 6-inch spacing between canes.

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