D2-Level Drought in Shawnee County

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), Shawnee County is currently experiencing D2-level drought. USDM categories this as “severe” because this level often involves crop and pasture loss, water shortages, and sometimes water use restrictions. In this post, we’ll explore what this means for your landscape maintenance in terms of watering both new and established plants.

Drought in Shawnee County | Topeka, KS

Image Source: National Integrated Drought Information Systems. Link: https://www.drought.gov/drought/

How Does Drought Impact Landscape Maintenance?

The most important thing we can say right now is that your plants need extra water. The amount of water that you were giving your plants last year simply is not going to cut it this year. This data from the National Drought Mitigation Center does a great job of showing how these conditions have changed over the past 12 months. You’ll see that currently, 25.36% of Kansans are experiencing D2-D4 levels, compared to last year when that percentage was 0. Simply put, this just goes to show that your plants had access to more water last year than they do this year.

Visual representation of drought in Kansas in 2018

Image Source: National Integrated Drought Information Systems.

Drought levels by percentage | Shawnee County | Topeka, KS | 2018

Image Source: National Integrated Drought Information Systems. Link: https://www.drought.gov/drought/states/kansas

How to Effectively Water New Plants

Keeping newly-planted trees, shrubs, and flowers hydrated is always important, but even more important when the climate is continuously hot and dry. Here are our suggested guidelines on how to keep your plants hydrated.

  • Water newly-planted trees and shrubs watered daily for the first two weeks, every other day for the next two weeks, and weekly thereafter.
  • Sprinklers and drip zones are NOT enough to establish new plant materials.
  • Proper watering requires the use of a hose with water applied to the base and surrounding area of the plant.
  • Generally, 40-65 seconds per plant at a medium rate is sufficient for shrubs.
  • Trees require between 30 minutes to an hour at more of a trickle.

The soil under your mulch or rock should not be allowed to dry out. It should be kept moist – not soaking wet, not bone dry. Depending on the time of year, soil conditions, drainage, and weather, these instructions may need to be modified.

How to Effectively Water Established Plants

The most effective way to tell if your plants need water is to stick your finger in the dirt near the root base and see if there is any moisture. We would recommend checking the moisture of all your established trees and shrubs as often as you are able. Do not wait for your plants to show signs of stress. Be proactive and keep them hydrated to maximize their potential.

A Few Resources To Help You Keep Your Plants Hydrated

Watering guidelines can vary greatly based on the type of plant, the age of the plant, and the specifics of your microclimate. If you have any questions, the team of experts here at Topeka Landscape is happy to help. We also offer watering services and would be happy to take that added stress off you. Contact us by clicking here.

For additional information on efficient water usage in the garden, check out these helpful tips from Kansas State Research and Extension.