How to keep your plants, trees and lawn alive during drought, heat wave

Hand water, make sure soil is moist at least 6 inches deep

A combination of severe drought and heat has left our local vegetation weak and requiring a lot of work on our part to keep it alive.

SAN ANTONIO – We are half way through the year and the San Antonio International airport has only recorded five inches of rain total.

We have had 33 days of triple digit temperatures, and 11 days in a row of hitting at least 100 degrees.

That combo of severe drought and heat has left our local vegetation weak and requiring a lot of work on our part to keep it alive.

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Local landscaper Mark Fanick, co-owner of Fanick’s Garden Center said if you want your plants, grass or trees to survive, you’ll need to be smart about how you are watering them.

He said a quick once over while hand watering will not do the trick.

“We don’t want just water on the surface roots,” Fanick said. “We want the deep roots and watering deep six, eight inches down is way better. It will last longer, it’s cooler on down than on top. The first inch of water evaporates immediately. The second inch takes hours upon that to evaporate. For your plants in the ground he said envision filling up a five gallon bucket that will keep the ground moist for several days.

“We don’t want to water fast on a five gallon bucket where the water would just run off to the sides,” Fanick said. “So make it run deep, we’ve got to hold it on top of the plant. That requires either a slow drip or puncturing a hole in a five gallon bucket, do a drip the cheap way. Or you want to put a dirt dam so that the water stands on top and has to soak down.”

A good soil and mulch will also help retain water and keep your plants cool.

As for potted plants, Fanick said those will most likely need to be watered daily, or some even twice a day. Just check the soil in the pot to make sure it’s completely soaked.

If you are a SAWs customer we are in Stage 2 drought restrictions-- which means hand watering is allowed anytime and any day however irrigation systems, sprinklers and soaker hose are allowed only once a week from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. or 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on your designated day.

“Trees are suffering tremendously as well,” Fanick said.

For trees that are drying up, you want to water up to eighteen inches deep into the soil on all sides, he said.

“You don’t want to water next to the tree trunk,” Fanick said. “Make sure you’re out for the drip line, as far as the roots reach.”

For your grass, you’ll want to make sure it gets at least one inch of water at least once a week. He said if you are using a sprinkler or irrigation system, set out a tuna can. If the can fills up completely with water, then your lawn should be set for the week.

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About the Authors:

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.