Lawn & Garden
The amount of water used outdoors can vary greatly. Water consumption can be as much as 500 - 5,000 gallons per day during the summer months. Be "water-wise".
- Water only when needed - Frequency depends on the type of plants and soil conditions.
- Water only as rapidly as the soil can absorb the water - Water runoff is a huge waste.
- Water slowly, deeply and less often - Longer watering cycles allow roots to lengthen and strengthen, allowing hardiness in drought conditions.
- Longer watering times mean fewer days of watering - Water every 3-4 days, if possible.
- Install a trickle or drip irrigation system for a slow, steady supply of water to the plant roots. This method can save up to 60% over other watering techniques.
- If you can not install a drip or bubble system for your landscaping needs, use a soaker or other porous walled hose.
- Water the lawn in the evening, night, or early morning when evaporation is less likely to occur. Avoid watering during the heat of the day.
- Turn off the sprinklers during windy or rainy weather.
- Is rainy weather expected? Turn off automatic sprinklers when rain is in the forecast and avoid watering the following day, if the rainfall was sufficient.
- Replace leaky or broken sprinklers and sprinkler heads promptly.
- Regularly watch the spray pattern on set sprinkler systems. Often they get misaligned. Overspray on streets, driveways, fences, etc., is wasteful.
- Consider water requirements when purchasing new plants.
- Use native plants when landscaping your lawn. Generally, native plants require less care and water than other ornamental varieties.
- Place a layer of organic mulch around plants and trees to avoid excessive evaporation. This includes bark, grass clippings or compost. Mulch helps to hold moisture into the soil.
- Use a broom, not a hose, when cleaning driveways and walkways.
- Use a hose with a shut-off nozzle to wash the car.
- Locate the master water supply valve and label it. The master supply valve, usually just outside of the water meter box, can be easily turned off in case of a major leak or broken pipe.
- Clean gutters and downspouts manually instead of hosing them down.
- Leftover glasses of water around the house? Don't dump down the drain, water your plants.
- Cleaning the freshwater fish tank? Use that fishy water to fertilize your plants and garden.
- Place rain buckets or barrels under rain gutter downspouts. Collect and use it to water outdoor plants.
- Immediately report sprinkler breaks or problems to the owner or caretaker of the property.
Determine Watering Needs
Here's a simple way to determine your lawn watering needs:
- Place 5 or more flat bottom test cans or coffee mugs randomly around your lawn.
- Turn on your sprinkler(s) for 15 minutes.
- Measure the depth of the water in each test can with a ruler to determine the average water depth in the test cans.
- Refer to the Watering Chart and read the number of minutes you should water, every 3rd day. Record the times for future reference.
Moisture Needs of Plants
Gardening professionals generally agree that most landscaping receives more water than necessary. Your goal, if experiencing a severe water shortage, should be to water only enough to keep grasses and plants alive. By gradually extending the length of time between waterings, plants have a tendency to require less water and become more drought resistant.
Tips to When & How Much
Plant type and soil conditions play a large role in determining when and how much to water. Turf areas require more water than trees, shrubs, and ground cover. Different soil types have different water retention capabilities. Know your soil type. Ask your local nursery or county extension office to recommend low water-using plants and ways to increase your soil's water holding capacity.
Here in the Tri-Cities, our soil is more than likely, sandy. Sandy soil is porous, and doesn't hold water well. Organic mulch, such as grass, bark or compost is an excellent top cover for plants and gardens. This layer provides needed nutrients, holds in moisture and allows less evaporation to escape. Before planting, be sure to add organic material (manure, compost, or soil amendments) and till in.
Your lawn needs water when it starts turning a dull gray/green and loses resiliency. Shrubs droop as they approach an absolute need for water
Water Efficient Irrigation & Landscape Techniques
The object of efficient irrigation is to water only the soil surrounding the root area of the plant, not directly on the root, but the root zone.
- Consider low water using turf varieties, like ornamental grasses. Consult your county extension office or local nursery to identify low water using turf varieties for your area.
- Remove thatch (dead grass) build-up in turf areas as soon as possible - Thatch restricts penetration of water, air, and nutrients.
- Aerate compacted soil to increase water penetration - Aerating should be done only during the spring months or after fall rains resume.
- Proper fertilizer application is important. Consult a nursery or landscape professional for a well-balanced fertilization program.
- Eliminate any over-spray on paved areas or buildings. Investigate the source of any unusual runoff, puddling or over-saturated areas.
- If you have an automated sprinkler system, make sure the controller is properly set to achieve minimum watering levels.
- When landscaping, a properly designed and installed irrigation system should be included as a water conservation tool. Automated irrigation systems offer the ultimate in both control and distribution of water over other watering systems.
in Test Cans
|Minutes to Water
|Minutes to Water
|Minutes to Water
|1 and 1/8 inch
Reminder: Use this chart as a guide only, and alter your water practices according to climatic conditions. Decrease watering times and frequencies during cool and / or humid weather. Skip at least 1 scheduled watering after any substantial rainfall.