Greensboro Arboretum staff work to keep everything green amid Piedmont drought

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Brown grass and withered plants are some of the signs of the Piedmont drought. At the Greensboro Arboretum, supervisor Matt Hicks pointed out how they are fighting to keep 17 acres flush with color.

"With our irrigation, we run it before daylight," Hicks said. "So when the sun comes up, it starts drying off foliage and that type of thing."

Watering during the early morning ensures that the water goes to the flowers, grass or plants. Watering during the heat of the day goes to evaporation, leaving very little moisture for the plant. For newly-planted shrubs or trees, they get extra attention.

"Any trees or shrubs that have gone in recently, we are going around with a water cart and hand watering on top of the irrigation because irrigation can't keep up in this situation," Hicks said.

Hicks also suggested that homeowners need to be aware of the types of flowering plants they are buying. Go with perennials instead of annuals.

"With perennials, it comes back," Hicks said. "You have a root system that continues to develop. A lot of your bedding plants and annuals are feeling the stress right now."

Hicks walked over to a perennial that's loving our current hot and dry weather.

"Lantana loves the heat and drought. The hotter it gets, the more blooms you will see," Hicks said.

As Hicks continued his walk across the Greensboro Arboretum, there are brown, shriveled tree leaves covering the walking path. Beech, cherry, poplar and other trees are dropping their leaves early because of the drought. This is concerning because the arboretum is a popular place to see the fall leaf change. Hicks feels there is still time to save the remaining leaves so we can have a great fall show.

"If we can go ahead and get some moisture, most things will be fine for the season," Hicks said.

And if the rain returns, it should be a fabulous fall at the Greensboro Arboretum.

"A lot of plants really do get colors," Hicks said. "Our maples are strong. Oranges, yellows and reds, some on all the same plant."

The Greensboro Arboretum will host "Art in the Arboretum" on Sunday, Oct. 6, from 12 to 5 p.m. Along with 50 artists, live music and food trucks, landscapers will be on hand to answer questions.

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