The general idea is that you set the time for your sprinkler and let it do its magic. But the truth is, there’s a little more to keeping a healthy yard than that. Right now, the rain may be doing a lot of the work, but once that hot summer sun is out every day, it’s important to take care of your lawn and plants.
Water early in the day before the temperatures rise; this gives your plants sufficient water to get through the heat of the day. This time also tends to have lower winds, so there is less evaporation and less wasted water. If this isn’t an option for you, the next best time is late in the afternoon after the hottest part of the day has passed. The goal is to allow enough time for your lawn and plants to dry to avoid fungal diseases, which thrive in dark, moist environments.
Your lawn and plants typically require 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. It is best to do deep and infrequent watering to establish strong root systems and healthier plants. Small amounts of watering very frequently will create a shallow root system and more evaporation. In the end, you end up wasting more water without providing the water your plants need. Should it rain, make sure to reduce the amount you are watering. Ideally for a lawn, you should water three times a week (.33 to .50 inches each time).
If you have an automatic sprinkler system, it is highly recommended that you install an automatic rain sensor. The device measures rainfall and will turn your system off for a short period so you do not over water. A basic wireless rain sensor costs about $130.00 installed. You will not have to monitor your sprinkler system as much and have peace of mind that your lawn and plants will not be overwatered.
A simple way to measure how long to run your sprinklers is to take a shallow dish and place it on the lawn. Start your sprinklers and your timer. When the water in the dish reaches the desired level, stop your timer and set your sprinklers for that amount of time.
If you’re wondering if your lawn needs water or not on any given day, go out and touch the grass. If you take a step and the grass springs back up after you remove your foot, then your lawn is healthy, and you do not need to water it. If when you lift your foot you see that the grass stays down, you should water.
Transplants Need Special Care
New plants need more attention than those already growing in your yard. They need more water as they establish their root systems. Dig a doughnut-shaped berm as wide as the leaves extend and fill it with water until the soil slowly soaks it up (if it soaks it up quickly, you’ll need to add more water). Remember, overwatered and underwatered plants look the same. New plants that are wilting could be getting too much water. Stick your finger into the soil a few inches near the base of the plant. If it is dry, water. If it is wet, don’t water.
Tips to Save Water (& Costs) When Watering
Make sure to check your irrigation system each year for leaks, cracked pipes, or plugged emitters to ensure the water you’re pumping out is going where you want it to go. When the system is on, check for any water that comes off as a mist; this is an indication that the water pressure is too high—and that the mist is going to waste.
One alternative to a standard hose and sprinkler is a soaker hose. They are fairly inexpensive and can cut water use by up to 70 percent. It is a long hose with lots of tiny holes throughout the length of it. Place it in your garden beds and add a timer. The water drips directly into the soil, avoiding water evaporation.
Give Naylor Landscape Management a call if you want to spruce up your landscaping, upgrade your irrigation system, or want someone to maintain your yard. We’re happy to show you how we can help with your lawn and landscape needs.