Q. My lawn looks almost dead and, when I water, it doesn't seem to help much. What should I do?
A. When the grass is struggling to survive during drought, it will turn brown and appear to be dead.
Actually, the plants have gone dormant, so try to stay off it as much as possible so as not to stress the turf even further.
Add about 1/2 inch of water every two to four weeks until rainfall happens. This should be enough to keep the plant crowns hydrated although it will not cause the grass to green up.
Q. We are hearing that some water providers are beginning to talk about water conservation.
If that happens, how do we keep our plants alive until rain comes?
A. First of all, our mature trees, shrubs and perennial plants (actually all plants) are made up of about 80 percent water and have built-in self-preservation resources and will begin to use those on their own in an effort to survive.
We can help them do that by adding (as with the grass) 1/2 inch of water every two weeks or so until rainfall.
Be sure to add the water directly to the root zone and make sure it reaches the roots and doesn't just lie on the dry surface of the soil or mulch layer.
You can help by digging a few holes with your trowel or other garden tool in the soil around the root area before watering.
If you haven't been using your liter bottles to hydrate your vegetable garden, this is a good time to begin.
Cut the bottoms off, turn the bottle upside-down and bury the spout near the root of the plant about halfway down in the soil for stability.
It is also suggested to add a long wick inside the bottle and lay it around the root area of the plant.
Fill the bottle with water and when it is empty, fill again. Soaker hoses are a good alternative as well.
If you have a rain barrel or water barrel, use that to dip from or, if it has a spigot, to fill your watering can.
You can keep an eye on how much water you are using by doing these things, which will help conserve water for everyone.
Do not water overhead with sprinklers because you would need to use too much water to reach the soil level and, in this dry heat, you will find plant diseases thriving as a result.
A weakened plant will also begin to be attacked by pests, which will not only create conditions where that plant may die, but can cause problems for surrounding plants as well.
Q. My rose garden looks terrible. Black spot has taken off most of the foliage.
Aphids are beginning to take over as well. What can I do to keep my plants from dying?
A. Roses, especially hybrid roses, are struggling in our unusual weather.
In spite of the fact we are told warm, wet conditions are the main causes of this problem, the dry, hot weather and, strangely enough, resulting humidity is proving all too deadly as well.
If you are having this problem, prune off at least a third of the empty stems (and check to see if the black spot is also on the stems), clean up under the plant, then drench or spray the plant with a safe fungicide following the treatment schedule on the label.
Fungicides may also contain insecticides, so they can serve a dual purpose.