The drought’s been having a significant impact on landscapes here in Scituate and throughout Western Massachusetts. While many people have done what they could to keep lawns watered, trees and shrubs haven’t been as lucky. Drought stress in shrubs looks like curled leaves, dropped leaves, a yellow or bleached appearance, and other signs of distress. When a shrub is struggling with the impact of a drought, it is more vulnerable to damage from insects and diseases.
The first remedy available to the homeowner is irrigation. Your Scituate lawn service can tell you that the best way to water shrubs is slowly, over a prolonged period. Letting the water soak in and penetrate to the shrub’s root system takes time: plan on devoting between 10-15 gallons of water per shrub twice per week to rehabiliate very stressed shrubs; if the shrub is not as stressed, you may be able to extend that watering schedule to once every five days.
Don’t be afraid to prune your shrubs. During a significant drought, such as we’re having right now, cutting shrubs back by up to a third can make a meaningful reduction in the plant’s need for water and allow it to make the most of limited water. Remove dead and dying branches. Leave, as much as possible, the canopy of leaves at the top of the shrub in place. These provide valuable shade which keeps the remainder of the shrub for becoming scorched.
If your shrub looks like it has died completely, have your Scituate lawn service prune it back so it’s only 6 inches tall or so. This technique, combined with a slow release fertilizer, can be exactly what your shrub needs to hang in there throughout the winter and start growing again in the spring. It’s not 100% guaranteed that your plant will come back, but it can’t hurt to try.