I was ready to begin writing my column on drip system watering for landscape beds but after this week’s weather, I just couldn’t make myself. So, I will postpone that topic for the time being and talk about the rain.
I’ve heard the expression that says something along the lines of, “if you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait an hour and it’ll change.” Who would have thought we would get multiple inches of rain in the course of several days, and that the temperatures would drop more than 10 degrees in the process in mid-July? What a wonderful week it has been.
There are so many benefits to having this weather pattern occur at this time. Just a week ago, there were yellowing grass patches appearing all over town, in yards, along highways and in parks.
In Central Texas, when our clay soil dries out, it hardens, shrinks and cracks. A hard rain will run off that as if it were cement. But this slow, steady rain and drizzle allowed enough time to soften and slowly moisten the hard clay and allow it to actually to absorb more of the precipitation.
Yes, there was a great deal of run-off, but throughout the week, the rain did wonders for our soil.
All of those root systems that were being strangled in the rock-hard clay are now soaking in the water. And not just the chlorinated version that we give it, but the pure, untreated rainwater it so desperately needs.
Also, the break in the 100-plus degree temperatures are helping revive wilting and parched foliage unable to retain moisture levels in extreme heat. Even though we were watering, the added humidity in the air has given the trees, grasses, shrubs and flowers the break they needed to revive and photosynthesize efficiently.
Another benefit of the recent rain is that root systems will be strengthened — something that is especially important for our fall blooming plants and other perennials which need healthy roots before winter. They can store needed nutrients to keep them healthy until spring arrives. Our trees will be able to absorb more water from these slow rains to retard (not erase) drought damage from the past few years.
The recent rain filled my rain barrels, which will allow me to use that water on my plants and shrubs for at least a month after these rains subside. As I have stated before, collecting rainwater is a great way to improve the life and health of your landscaping and in doing so, saves money and a precious natural resource.
Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.