September 17, 2015

Watering is vital for all life on earth, and lack of water takes its toll in many ways. When you are thirsty, you can vocalize your need for water. Plants show their thirst in other ways, however, that are not always easy to notice unless you know what to look for. Many people rely on occasionally watering the landscape with an overhead sprinkler or water hose, and for some yards, this is sufficient. However, other yards require reliable irrigation to avoid drought-like conditions. Here are signs that your Ann Arbor MI landscape needs irrigation.

Shriveled leavesa bull dog rolling in the grass

Browning lawn turf and shriveled plant leaves are usually the first signs you will notice when your yard is too dry. This can happen anytime for some plants if you go a few days without watering and there is little rainfall. If most of your plants are showing shriveled leaves, however, the problem could be chronically dry soil. If you take a closer look at the plants, you might also notice weak stems and browning over all.

Plants Lose Flowers, Buds or Fruit

Plants that are water-stressed are in survival mode. This means they will not begin to produce, or will stop producing buds, flowers or fruit to conserve limited resources. This holds for most greenery in your yard, including your vegetable garden, flower garden and many trees. Some plants will additionally show signs of dwarfed growth in response to lack of adequate soil moisture.


Plant dieback is a common result of drought. The plant foliage starts dying off first, and then the stems and branches. Unless they receive water in time to halt the dieback procession, the plants will die. Woody plants often start losing foliage towards the tips of branches, and then the branches become brittle. Trees in a long-term drought also display this feature. Dieback also occurs when plants are victim to certain diseases and pests. However, if your yard is displaying other signs of under-watering it is safe to assume the dieback is likely caused by the dry soil conditions.

BrowningDry grass texture

Poorly watered grass pales and eventually turns brown. This occurs evenly over the lawn and distinguishes it from the brown patches caused by some lawn diseases. Plant and leaf foliage will also lose color, eventuall becoming brown as the foliage dies. Some plants turn yellow before becoming brown. Yellow leaves can also indicate lack of nitrogen, but if the phenomenon is widespread through the yard, it is more likely a sign of water-stressed plants.

Fails Soil Moisture Test

Use a screwdriver or similar object and push it into the earth at least 6 inches deep. If it is dry when you pull it up, your yard is far too dry for most plants, including trees. Test this in several areas around the yard, as some areas dry out faster than other areas. This way you don’t risk getting a false positive by assuming the whole yard is fine just because one area shows moisture.

If your Ann Arbor MI yard shows signs of chronic dryness, consider installing irrigation to safeguard your plants. Many systems come with moisture sensors and timers to prevent over watering. This saves water while ensuring plants get the moisture they need to thrive.

Get your yard looking its absolute best with custom landscaping solutions from Twin Oaks. Find us online at, visit us in Ann Arbor, MI at 4100 South Maple Road, or call us at (734) 213-6911.