14 Aug 2023

Preparing for a heat wave

It has been a hot and dry summer in the Pacific Northwest and the region is expected to experience a heatwave this week as temperatures rise 10-15 degrees above normal. It’s important to keep gardens and landscapes hydrated during heatwaves. Here are some tips to keep your garden and landscape plants comfortable:

  • Water plants deeply either in the evening or early morning before the high temperatures arrive. Getting water on the leaves can lead to fungal diseases in some plants, like squash, so watering in the morning is ideal.
  • Container plants need to be checked frequently as they dry out faster than inground plantings and during a heatwave and they may need to be watered more than once each day. Consider moving container plants into shady areas or set up some shade cloth for the duration of the heatwave,
  • Learn what your plants’ watering requirements are and adjust them accordingly. Some prefer almost zero water during summer (i.e., manzanita& madrone) whereas other ones will wilt even when they have water (i.e., hydrangea & rhododendron).
  • Visually check for watering needs by using a moisture meter or by simply just watching plants; if they droop, it’s time to water.
  • Newly installed plants are among the highest priorities for watering during a heatwave. These plants have not been rooted into the ground completely and are at a greater risk of drying out in the heat.
  • Add a layer of mulch around your plants such as compost, aged bark, or woodchips to help maintain soil moisture. Sandy soil will need more frequent watering than clay soil, especially if it isn’t amended with organic matter.
  • Make sure to not transplant, prune, or fertilize during a heat wave as these activities are all stressful for plants.

Since heatwaves are occurring more frequently, here are some additional tips that can help prepare your garden and landscape for future heatwaves:

  • Grow drought-tolerant plants and try grouping them together; consider xeriscaping a portion or all of yard.
  • Use drip systems and soaker hoses for the most efficient watering. They get the water directly to the plant’s roots.
  • Stay on top of weeding in the garden as they compete for nutrients and water.
  • Amend soil regularly with organic material, like compost, as it will increase the water-holding capacity in any soil type.
  • Last but not least, make sure you’re also staying hydrated!
02 Aug 2023

Sizzlin’ Summer

One of the most common calls we get at Highway Fuel is from people looking for “Mulch”. The term mulch seems to be the new green buzz word around the landscaping and gardening communities. So, what is mulch, exactly? The word mulch most likely comes from the German word molsch, which is the word used to describe something that is soft and starting to decay. A mulch layer typically consists of a layer of organic material covering the soil, especially found around trees or shrubs. Some examples of organic materials that can be used to mulch include wood chips, bark, compost, sawdust, leaves, & straw. Organic mulches are best for adding nutrients to the soil and suppressing weeds, but they don’t fully block all weeds. Inorganic materials such as landscape fabric, gravel or stone can work well for blocking weeds and holding in moisture, but don’t add any nutrients to soil. Gravel and stones can work well as mulch for plants that like hot weather or gardens that need good amount of drainage such as rain gardens.

Placing mulch around the landscape is by no means a new technology. Plants have long been naturally creating mulch for themselves by dropping needles and leaves all around them, creating a protective barrier on top of the soil that their roots can grow in. Mother nature mulches annually, as one layer of organic matter decays another layer is added. People have also been using mulch to protect the roots of newly planted shrubs, trees, and plants for as long as people have worked the soil. A layer of mulch around the base of the plants will keep them well-moisturized and free from weeds in the summer as well as prevent erosion and keep the roots warm in the winter. The structure of the soil and overall fertility will improve if mulch is used consistently over time.
If you don’t have enough materials such as bark, wood chips, leaves, or gravel to use as mulch, call or stop by Highway Fuel. We carry many bulk bark products such as medium fir, dark fine fir, dark or red hemlock, dyed fir bark, or fir or cedar wood chips (https://highwayfuel.com/product-category/barks/). All bark products are available by the 5-gallon bucket (Bring Your Own Bucket, or buy one of ours) or by the cubic yard for pick-up, delivery, or installation using our blower truck service. Learn more about our blower service at https://highwayfuel.com/services/blower-truck/.