Replace Plants Lost to Drought Now, Expert Says

Even The Plant Lady, Teresa Johnson, has had drought problems. She advises everyone to monitor their watering habits. Even The Plant Lady, Teresa Johnson, has had drought problems. She advises everyone to monitor their watering habits. Teresa Johnson

You survived the 2016 drought, but your plants and your grass didn’t. What steps can you take to get your landscaping like new again? One local expert says start planning – and planting – now.

Teresa Johnson, known fondly throughout Tuscaloosa as “The Plant Lady,” is the co-owner of Johnson’s Gardens and Café alongside her husband. Johnson provides commercial interior, landscape and maintenance services, so she is familiar with the challenges area residents are facing.

Even The Plant Lady had drought troubles this year, which is why she said she stresses to people to watch their watering techniques.

“I had things die this year because [the drought] snuck up on me. August, September and October are our driest months. Plus, it’s football season, which is all we’re thinking about in Tuscaloosa,” she said. “That’s why you really have to watch your water.”

Waiting until your plants are wilted and dying is too late, so making sure to replace plants before the spring can help. Shake off any excess soil from the plants as you remove them, Johnson said.

“With a drought situation, you cannot wait until a month has gone by and then try to catch up with watering. By then, it’s too late and it won’t work,” she said. “If you water drought soil, it’s just going to suck up all the water, and if you try to water your yard, your neighbor’s yard is going to suck as much as it can away from yours and it creates a wicking effect. That’s why you have to stay on top of the weather, especially if you’ve lost plants.”

One inch of rain is needed for plants per week and especially for grass. Sod cannot grow if weeks have gone by without water, she said.

“Somebody needs to create an app to let them know how much rainwater they've gotten in their area,” she said, laughing. “If you can’t stay on top of your water, then you should invest in an irrigation system, whether it be an oscillating sprayer or drip irrigation. But you can’t let your irrigation system be in charge of your yard; you have to be in charge, because systems break and leak. I’ve been on so many consultations where people didn’t even know their systems were broken.”

Johnson said the first two years into planting are crucial. Water levels need to be monitored as much as possible.

“Landscaping adds value to your home and to your mood,” Johnson said. “It’s very stressful to pull up to a dead yard, believe me, I know. It happened this year and it was established, it wasn’t new.” 

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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