Now that the weather has heated up, you’ve probably turned on your sprinklers. And then you’ll get the first water bill. Was it a shock? Or are you waiting for it to arrive?
We’ve done some research to find the best recommendations to keep your landscaping lush without breaking the bank. We’ll look first at your watering system, and then talk about how frequently your lawn really needs watering.
Set Up A Good System
Are you still bringing a hose out each day? If so, you may want to look into upgrading your system to timers. Some counties are offering rebates if you upgrade your timer system, or even add one in.
So why should you have a timer? It’s more efficient. If you start to water the lawn and the phone rings, you could seriously overwater your lawn. Secondly, the best time to water is the time when you’re probably sleeping.
The new water timers also have rainfall detectors and will not water if it detects rain saving you money.
The Best Time to Water
The best time to start watering is around 2am. If you water during the day, the water will cook the plants and the water will evaporate before it can fully soak into the ground. If you water in the evening, the roots may rot. Also, wet soil can encourage diseases and fungus to grow.
But if you start watering at the crack of dawn, the plants will be able to draw up the water and stay cool and lush during the heat of the day.
However, if your plants are droopy at the end of the day, such as if they’re in a container, do water them again. Just make certain it’s after 4pm and that the sun is no longer directly on them.
And if you do have to water them with the sun on them, water down low and keep the water from splashing on the leaves.
How Frequently and How Much
Lawns need 1-2″ of water per week and need to reach a depth of 6″. So how to figure that?
From Fairway Lawns:
Here’s how to determine your watering schedule:
The next time you’re getting ready to water, set an empty tuna fish-sized can in each area where you’re going to put your sprinkler. (If you have an automatic sprinkler system, set the tuna cans in strategic areas throughout your lawn before the sprinklers come on.)
- Turn on your sprinkler for 30 minutes.
- Turn off your sprinkler
- Stick a ruler into the tuna can and see how much water is in it.
If you don’t have ½” of water, keep watering (time yourself!) until you do.
Now, let’s determine if your lawn needs 1” of water per week or 2” per week.
After you have gathered ½” of water in your tuna can, take a 6” screwdriver and push it into your lawn, up to the hilt. If it goes in easily, you’re done! If not, you need to water some more, perhaps gathering up to 1” in your tuna can. (Caution: If, at any time, water is running off and down the street, you need to stop for 20-30 minutes, let the water soak into the lawn, and then resume watering. This usually occurs due to heavy clay soil or because your soil is compacted.)
After you have determined the length of time you need to water to reach ½” (or ¾”, etc.) then simply water for that long, twice per week.
If you have to cut back on watering due to financial concerns, keep your lawns longer. That will slow growth and then the grass will need less water. It will also create natural shade for its root system.
Trees and shrubs can be watered less. Trees need to have good penetration so that they develop deep roots. They should be mulched to help trap in moisture.
Also, consider working with your local resources and re-landscape with plants that are native to the area and would require less external watering.