Question: Our lawn irrigation system has an irrigation controller installed. We just had some minor repairs made along with adding a few new sprinklers to a zone and installing some drip irrigation.
However, we now can only water once per week due to water restrictions. What measures can we take to make the landscape and lawn look great and get the most out of our “tuned up” irrigation system? Gloria, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Answer: Each year thousands of homeowners get the outdoor itch and spend all kinds on money on landscape improvements like irrigation systems, lighting and other additions like plants and flowers. The problem occurs a few months later when those same plant enthusiast grow tired of watering the plants.
Watering (irrigating) plants is not fun, but it is an essential part of plant care. When you irrigate your plants it does not need to be time consuming or difficult. Here are a few tips and tools to make the chore of watering plants easier.
One of the biggest watering mistakes with plants in the landscape or in the house is watering plants consistently.
You wouldn’t fill a cup with water and leave a box for cereal for a 5-year old and come back in two weeks to see how things are going.
Plants need regular irrigation. Waiting until it is time to rescue the plant from a near death experience and expect it to bounce back and recover with a drowning of attention puts too much stress on the plants.
Too little water followed by too much water is an open invitation to disease problems and overall plant health.
The solution is to be consistent, develop a routine water schedule and irrigation checklist. Many areas of the country have days to water your lawn based on your address. This helps take the guesswork out and plants will adapt as well to the irrigation schedule.
If you don’t have an irrigation system installed at your home buy some extra hoses and sprinklers to reduce the time it takes to drag a hose around. If houses and sprinklers are not in the budget look at some quick hose disconnects.
Water Completely and Thoroughly
Waving a hose and getting the foliage wet does not put any water on the roots. Plants and the root systems do much better when the plants have been thoroughly and completely watered. If a plant is not watered completely you’ll be back in a few days watering again.
Watering plants completely is especially important in container grown plants that can dry out quickly.
The best tool for getting water to the roots on container plants when hand watering is by using a watering wand with a good water breaker attached. This will allow you easily reach through foliage and gently direct a high volume of water right where you want it.
Control the Water Volume or How Much to Irrigate
In general, lawns require about one inch of water per week. Do you know how much water your sprinkler system or good ole Mother Nature is putting out on your lawn? Finding out the answer is simple.
Place a few small rain gauges around your yard to make sure your watering is thorough, complete and effective. This way you’ll not put out too much or too little water and can adjust your irrigation schedule as needed.
Irrigation by The Clock
When watering the lawn and landscape with overhead sprinklers most irrigation experts agree with watering in the cool, calm hours of the morning. As the day heats up and wind starts blowing, as much as 50% of the water traveling through a typical impulse or oscillating sprinkler will be lost to evaporation and the wind.
The addition of a low-cost timer to control irrigation times can be attached to a faucet and make sure the correct amount of water is applied at the right time of day, even you are not around to turn on the water.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about only turning on the water but turning off the water happens automatically also.
When watering it’s (lawns especially) important to also be environmentally responsible with our water use and not waste water. Many times homeowners’ underwater plants resulting in patchy spots of grass and dead shrubs. It doesn’t make sense to invest in plants and not provide the proper care.
Drip irrigation systems are now easy to install and widely available. Drip systems are efficient, conserve time and water resources.
There are really no excuses to not take advantage of them for irrigating plants and the landscape. Water rings are also an option for use around landscape shrubs and trees.
They work much like a drip watering system by slowly delivering water right at the roots without run off.
Plan Your Plantings
Placing plants randomly will waste time while watering and water use. Create beds that require the same use needs and lighting needs. This will make maintenance easier and watering more efficient.
Confused on what can grow together? The web and the library hold a wealth of plant resource information on the water requirements, cultural needs and which plants can be grouped together.
Pick The Right Sprinkler
Over the past few years sprinklers and irrigation systems have improved greatly. If your irrigation system still waters the sidewalk or street making a simple change of the sprinkler head may be all that is needed to cure the problem. This falls right into place with watering at the right time, place and using water efficiently.
Taking these simple watering tips will improve your irrigation and watering practices and help you create a better looking landscape!