Drought Poses Immediate Threat To Our Yards

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RENO, NV - Whenever we have these long dry spells we tend to focus on the mountains above us where we see the snow pack or lack thereof.

When it's this dry this long, however, our immediate concern, should be down here below. In fact right out our front or back door.

This is where the drought is already impacting anyone with a yard.

Forget for the moment worries about summer watering restrictions. Your worry should be whether anything will be left to water come summer.

"Even though your plants are all dormant, they still need a supply of water in the soil," says Pawl Hollis, owner of Rail City Gardens in Sparks. "The need to keep their roots wet."

If the ground were frozen or if there were a few inches of snow sitting on it his advice might be different, but clearly that's not the case. Instead he says everything in your yard is drying up fast.

"Cold temperatures, very low humidity, a wind comes up and it just removes that water. Roots will freeze dry," says Hollis. "It'll go dry and dessicate and die from drought in the middle of winter."

A good test, he says, is to dig down a few inches. The soil here at his shop shows some moisture. If yours doesn't look like his you need to get some water on it.

Then again, chances are you already know the answer, so just put down the shovel and water, slow and deep if possible.

"Soaker hoses are terrific because you can water a whole flower bed. Just lay it in beside the drip system that's there. You need to do it this week.

Hollis says everything in your yard needs this help, but evergreens and new plantings are especially vulnerable.

Some are turning on those sprinkler and drip systems they turned off in October. If you do remember to turn it off and drain it each time.

Hollis says, however, that's not necessary. A soaker hose and a simple sprinkler on your regular garden hose can do the job over a few days.

Oh, and he adds, this dry weather is not only setting us up for winter kill this in our yards, it's also making an early bloom on our fruit trees likely.

If luck holds, that will be followed by a hard freeze. Gardening in the high desert--always a challenge.