Sprinkler timers can be great for making our lives simpler. No more having to go out to turn the water on and off, remembering the last time you watered or when you turned the water on. Sprinkler timers are also a great stop gap because sometimes life gets busy and we forget. We for...get to turn the water on or we forget to turn it off. Whether your sprinkler system is hose end or underground, always use a timer, and save yourself time, water and money.
Drip watering is great not only because it saves water, but it prevents weeds and keeps your flowerbeds looking clean. By putting water only on the plants (where it’s needed), you prevent ugly weeds from popping up, saving yourself time while saving water.
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Tip #3: Use the rain delay whenever possible
Most hose end and underground timers have a rain delay feature, which should be used whenever rainfall is imminent. Simply set the rain delay for a day or two and take advantage of the nature’s sprinklers.
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Tip #4: Water during early morning hours, before the sun is up
When watering, we want to ensure as much of the water as possible gets to the plants’ roots. This means avoiding runoff, oversaturation and evaporation. For this reason, it’s good to water when the sun is down to prevent evaporation. However, water left sitting on the la...wn too long can result in disease and fungus. Watering in the early morning hours, before sunrise, can prevent disease and fungus, while also avoiding evaporation and improving the health of your lawn.
Plants like consistency. And the best way to get that is to make sure the soil is moist with water for them to drink. This is accomplished by watering deeply rather than often. Soil (depending on the type) can only soak up so much water in a given amount of time before it becomes fl...ooded and the water starts to pool, eventually becoming wasted in runoff. You want to water long enough to collect the right amount of water and then let it soak in deeply to the ground. After all, that’s where the roots are. For many soil types this is done using interval watering. Let’s say your lawn needs an inch of water per week, but your soil can only take water for 20 minutes before it starts to pool and run off. In that case you’d want to water three times per week for 20 minutes each time. Intraday watering can also be important, especially with sloped lawns or clay soils. In these cases you may need to run your sprinklers four times per day (still only three days per week) at five minutes a cycle, leaving a fifteen to thirty minute break between cycles to let the water soak in.
Tip #6: Check each sprinkler zone often for leaks or breaks
Sprinkler systems can be tricky to keep running in top shape. If you’re watering correctly, they’re usually on when you’re asleep. By the time you wake up the water they put down is already drying. So it’s hard to tell if there’s a problem. For this rea...son we recommend checking your sprinkler system often for leaks and breaks. There’s many ways to do this, but the simplest would be to run each zone for a couple minutes and observe how the sprinklers are performing. Check for breaks and geysers (which should be pretty obvious), but also look at spray patterns and watch for runoff. How often should you do this? While it depends upon your schedule, we recommend at least twice a month. One broken sprinkler can waste 100 gallons of water in ten minutes.
As the months and seasons change, your watering habits should change with them. Spring and fall are usually the times when plants needs very little watering, sometimes none at all depending on where you live. Summer months usually require more watering. Adjusting your programmed wat...ering schedule every month or so is one of the best ways to save water and money. To find the perfect schedule for your home, visit wateringschedule.com and perform a simple system audit. This site will give you a customized sprinkler schedule for the entire year based on your geographic location and sprinkler system’s performance. You’ll be able to make quick adjustments throughout the year, maximizing savings as well as maintain a great looking yard.
Tip #8: Pick the right plants for you climate zones
You wouldn’t try to grow palm trees high in the Rocky Mountains, nor would you plant a cactus in a rain forest. It’s no secret that plants all have ideal climates and it’s important that when planting a garden, we take account of where we live. Trying to outsmart M...other Nature is a fool’s errand and will require excessive amounts of water and resources to see results. If you live in a climate that doesn’t typically have a lot of rainfall, don’t try to grow plants that require a lot of water. You can find what hardiness zone you live in through the USDA. Once you know your hardiness zone, a simple web search will yield hundreds of plant possibilities for your consideration.
It’s nice to have a watering schedule and the more we know about our yards, the better we can predict the watering needs. However, it may surprise you how little water your lawn and garden need. A great way to know for sure is to check the saturation level of your soil. For fl...owerbeds, dig down 6-inches or so, and see if the soil is muddy or moist. If so, you can probably hold off watering for a day or two. For lawn, if the top 2-3 inches are still moist, your lawn doesn’t need water yet.
Tip #10: Group plants with the same watering needs together
Annuals have very shallow root systems and need a good soaking every five days or so (and more like every three days in the very hot months). But roses have much deeper root systems, and therefore don’t need water as often, as long as they do get a good soaking when watered. A...nd for plants with extremely deep root systems, you may not have to water very often. Perhaps won’t have to water at all, because rainfall will be sufficient. By grouping plants with the same watering needs (called Hydrozones), you prevent over or under watering some plants.
How many times have you been driving somewhere in the rain only to see someone’s sprinklers running? This happens all too often and when water is scarce, it’s important that we save that water. Most irrigation timers have a rain delay feature, but even then it requires y...ou to remember to set it. A rain sensor could be the perfect failsafe for those with busy lives. A rain sensor will detect rain when it’s falling and temporarily turn the timer off, thereby saving valuable water.
Tip #12: Keep an eye on your water bill for irregular spikes
Though your water usage will rise as you turn your sprinklers on, it’s usually pretty consistent year over year. A spike in your bill may indicate a leak or something wrong with your sprinkler system. Many municipalities will give you sense of your average usage, even showing ...you usage rates from prior years. If you’re doing things right, you’ll see usage levels go down, indicating you’re winning the battle to conserve.
Aeration is great for lawns for many reasons. It opens the soil up to fresh air and can let the water penetrate the roots more effectively. While it’s good to aerate in the spring and fall, it’s also good to do a little aeration during the summer. You can gently poke hol...es with a stake or nail, or even have your kids run around with their soccer cleats on. If done every six weeks or so, you can be sure your grass is getting great saturation.
Tip #14: Select lawn species appropriate for your climate
Certain species of lawn require more water than others, for that reason, areas with traditionally low rainfall, or where drought conditions often occur, should avoid using these species. Species great for hot, dry climate include Bermuda, Fescue, Rye, Bahia and Buffalo. If you live ...somewhere where droughts are common, you may want to avoid species such as Zoysia, St. Augustine and Kentucky.
Smart watering not only includes knowing when and how much to water, but how to make your water go further. Mulch is a great way to hold moisture in and keep soil saturated long after you’ve finished watering. Not only does mulch often provide nutrients to the soil and plant r...oots, it also gives shade, holding in moisture and humidity. Scatter a small amount around the plant roots and you’ll see the improvement.
Tip #16: Use grass clippings as mulch around your plants and trees
There are plenty of household items that can be repurposed in the garden. Grass clippings are great for mulch, providing insulation to keep in moisture and shade for plant roots. Instead of throwing grass clippings away, apply them around your plants.
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Tip #17: Target dry spots with a hose end sprinkler
If parts of your lawn are looking a little yellow, and you’ve determined it’s because those spots are not receiving enough water, use a hose end sprinkler of appropriate size, instead of running the whole sprinkler zone or system. Whether it’s a large, medium or sm...all area, the right sized sprinkler will help you accomplish green results without watering lawn that doesn’t need it. Also, dry spots may indicate a lack of proper coverage from your underground system, and you may want to perform an audit at wateringschedule.com to find the problem and make corrections.
Many municipalities, nurseries and local gardening associations offer classes free to the public on horticultural education. These can be the perfect place to get expert advice on what plants work best in your area, how to refine your watering needs, or just fun improvements you can... make to your yard.
Raising the height of your lawn mower can have a number of positive effects on the health and appearance of your lawn. When lawn is cut too short—called scalping—it can leave a crusty, yellow-brown layer on the top. This leads homeowners to think their lawn isn’t g...etting enough water and to over water. The problem isn’t the water though, it’s that the lawn is stressed from being cut too short. Leaving the grass longer (ideally 3-3.5ʺ) provides longer grass blades, which give cool shade to the roots below and keep them from drying out. This all leads to a greener lawn.
Tip #20: Always use nozzles with shutoffs for your hose
Garden hoses can be a major culprit behind wasting water. Just leaving the hose running while you wash your car could waste a hundred gallons of water or more. By using a nozzle with a shutoff, you save precious water. Furthermore, multi-pattern nozzles give you a variety of options... that eliminate the need to change nozzles for the different jobs at hand. Whether you need a powerful stream of water for blasting away dirt, or a gentle rain for watering plants, turret nozzles make them just a twist away.
Did you know a lot of organic waste from the kitchen can be used as mulch in the garden? Fruit and vegetable clippings are a great source of nutrients for your plants. And mulch helps hold in moisture, reducing your water needs. Before washing those clippings down the drain or throw...ing them in the garbage, put them in the garden.
Tip #22: Use short watering intervals to avoid runoff
For many lawns, short watering intervals are the best option. If your lawn has any sort of slope or angle to it, water will instantly start to run downhill, pooling up at the bottom. After just a few minutes, the water from the top of the hill is hardly doing anything and the bottom... is nothing but a wasteful puddle. Shorter intervals allow the water to saturate the soil without being wasted. For those zones that have this problem, the intervals will result in a greener, thicker lawn and water savings along the way. So, water in two 10 minute intervals, rather than one 20 minute session.
Tip #23: A square yard of grass requires 25 gallons per watering
It might surprise you just how much water it takes to keep a lawn green. With this in mind, it might be more effective to xeriscape or use more efficient methods of gardening.
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Tip #24: Plant the right plants for your soil type
Knowing your soil type is important for determining your watering needs. Why? Different plants need different amounts of water and nutrients. Certain soils are better at holding water and nutrients than others. Water and minerals are quickly washed away from sandy soil but held in l...onger in clay and silty soil. Also, some plants like soils that are more acidic and others more alkaline. So, determine your soil type before panting.
Tip #25: Check for rebates for installing efficient watering products
There may be more savings than you realize by conserving water. Many municipalities offer rebates and incentives for switching to a more efficient irrigation system. Checking your local watering district’s website will give you an idea of what’s available in your area.
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Tip #26: Fertilize before rain
When we fertilize our lawns, they need water soon after to prevent the grass from burning up. Rather than using sprinklers to wet the lawn after fertilization, fertilize before a rain storm. Let rain water take the minerals and nutrients to your lawns roots.