From general watering tips to sprinkler tricks to water conservation hacks, Heritage Lawns and Irrigation has put together this comprehensive blog to help keep your lawn green while keeping more green in your pocket as well. Whether you water by hand or have a sprinkler system, use these tips to keep your lawn green and gorgeous all season long.
General Watering Tips to Follow
Your lawn requires the following for optimum results:
- 1 to 2 inches of water per week during the growing season (use rain gauge or a small bucket for proper measurements).
- Water in the morning! The best time to water is between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. when the wind is low and the water doesn’t evaporate so fast. It also helps knock the dew off the lawn which aids in disease control.
- Water slowly. Our heavy clay soil only accepts .25 inches of water per hour so anything over that just runs off down the storm sewer.
- Use the rain/soak/rain method. Let your zones run just long enough to deliver .25” of water and then move to the next zone. Then start over and run through each again about 1 hour apart. This will deliver a deep soaking that is good for the roots.
- Water when needed! Soak the root zone and then let it dry.
- During the hottest part of the year, water 2 to 3 times each week (adjusting your watering for rainfall). As a rule, it is much better to water deeply and infrequently than to water a little bit every day.
- Water a minimum of 1/2 to 3/4 inches of water during each watering session.
- Water slowly to avoid run-off.
- Water to a minimum soil depth of 4 inches (use a stake or screwdriver to test depth).
- More water is required during the summer and hot weather.
- Less water is required during the spring and fall and during cool weather.
Avoid the following for optimum results:
- Light, frequent watering which causes shallow, weak root systems that are very susceptible to drought and disease damage.
- Heavy, fast watering (high pressure) which can lead to unnecessary runoff and soil erosion
Additional Read: Soil Sensors are Taking the Guesswork out of Watering the Lawn
Following the above guidelines will encourage a healthy deep grass root system that is more drought and disease resistant.
Smart Sprinkler Tips to Save Water & Money
Water-wise habits will result in a healthier lawn and landscape, in addition to conserving water.
Install Water Efficient Sprinklers & Nozzles
-Today’s water efficient sprinklers and nozzles are designed to produce drops of water that are larger, wind resistant, prevent evaporation, and reduce the potential for overwatering. These systems also help to increase water savings by 30
Consider Drip Irrigation for Your Lawn
When an estimated 50% of landscape irrigation water use is wasted, this is an especially helpful upgrade for your home. Install micro irrigation for gardens, trees and shrubs, and plant beds. Micro irrigation includes drip (also known as trickle), micro spray jets, micro-sprinklers, or bubbler irrigation to irrigate slowly and minimize evaporation, runoff and overspray. With drip irrigation, 90-100% of the water goes to the roots, which is where it is needed. This efficient style of irrigation keeps water off the house too, which minimizes wood rot, and allows you to water only where you want. This system is also known as trickle irrigation or localized irrigation and can help with 30-50% of water savings.
Avoid Watering in the Rain
Install a rain shutoff switch. This inexpensive and effective device is required by law in many states. In fact, these money-saving sensors turn off your system in rainy weather and help to compensate for natural rainfall. The device can be retrofitted to almost any system. Install climate or soil moisture sensor-based controllers. These controllers evaluate weather or soil moisture conditions and then calculate and automatically adjust the irrigation schedule to meet the specific needs of your landscape. These irrigation controllers give just the right amount of water to your lawn and plants. Because the average homeowner uses 1/3 of their water on landscape irrigation, this technology helps cut back those costs.
Inspect and Adjust Your Sprinkler System
At the beginning of the season, check for leaks, broken or clogged heads, correct obstruction, and other problems. Adjust sprinkler heads to keep water off pavement and structures. Perform a uniformity test to make sure areas are being watered evenly. This can be especially helpful if you have areas being under-watered or brown spots.
Adapt Your Watering Schedule to the Weather and the Season
Familiarize yourself with the settings on your home’s irrigation controller. Adjust the watering schedule regularly to conform with the weather conditions. Most importantly you should know how to add or subtract days of the week that you water. Once the times are set, you’ll adjust how many days per week you are watering throughout the season.
Schedule Watering by Zone
Don’t water everything every day! Different plants need different watering schedules. Flower beds and pots need to be watered more frequently than turf so set their schedules on separate programs. Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system. “Scheduling” accounts for the type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and the soil type for the specific area. The same watering schedule should almost never apply to all zones in the system.
If you’re not sure how to, or just don’t want to, do these things you can get a professional audit. Hire an Irrigation Associated certified professional to perform an audit and make recommendations for improvements. The Irrigation Association maintains an online list of IA Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditors.
Other Ways to Save Water
With residential water rates more than doubling in most U.S. states within the past decade, conserving water has become more of a hot topic than ever before. With simple practices and new technology, existing sprinkler systems can be made more efficient, lowering your water bill, reducing runoff and eliminating waste. Heritage Lawns & Irrigation put together a few tips for you to follow when it comes to outdoor water conservation. The less you waste, the more you save. Some of these will overlap with our watering and sprinkler tips, but follow them all and you’ll see your water bill drop:
- Use an automatic timed sprinkler system to water your yard. It is the most efficient water system because it controls the amount of water used. It can also be set to run overnight or in the early morning when temperatures and winds are at the lowest levels, reducing the amount of evaporation.
- Install a drip sprinkler system. Slow watering can save up to 60% of all water used in lawn and garden areas.
- Aerate your lawn. This ensures maximum water penetration.
- Use pressurized irrigation systems. They deliver water more efficiently than any other method of lawns, gardens and crops.
- Avoid wasting water. When it comes to cleaning sidewalks and driveways, use a broom or a blower instead of a hose.
- Utilize soil moisture measurement devices. They monitor the amount of water in the soil available to plants and will turn irrigation watering on or off as appropriate to maximize plant growth while minimizing water use.
- Remove dead or dying plants, including weeds. When still in the ground, they compete with the healthy, living plants for available water.
- Loosen soil around plants occasionally. Doing this or mulching the soil surface helps to cut down on water evaporation.
- Wash cars with a bucket of water. Do not let the water run while washing your car. Use a nozzle or hose-end turn off valve. If possible, drive your vehicle onto the lawn so excess water can be absorbed into the landscape.
- Use pool covers to reduce evaporation. In arid climates, an average sized swimming pool loses about 1,000 gallons of water per month if left uncovered.
- Avoid using sprinklers for play. Yes, this is extremely enjoyable for young children but it accounts for an incalculable loss of water.
Should You Let Your Lawn Go Dormant?
To let your lawn go dormant or not is a question we get asked a lot in the middle of summer. Really what people are asking is should they water or not? While it is personal preference, it’s a pretty simple process.
If your lawn has already turned brown, even though you’ve been watering 2 or 3 times per week, then the decision is easy. You won’t be able to make it green up with temperatures in the upper 90’s, so just stop watering and save the money.
You should still water deeply every 2 weeks to keep the crowns (the main growing point) from kicking the bucket, but if you continue to water when the lawn is dormant, you will just encourage weeds. If you decide to keep the lawn green, watering deeply and every other day should do the trick. With hot dry weather, you need about 2 inches of water per week.