Did you know approximately 50 percent of the water we consume each year goes toward landscaping? And water bills typically are two to three times higher in summer than winter? A large part of the seasonal increase simply is the result of over-watering landscape. Whether you use a hose and sprinkler or an automatic irrigation system, you can water more wisely with the following tips.
How can I tell if my grass needs water?
Here are two ways you can tell whether your grass needs to be watered -- using either high-tech moisture sensors or low-tech alternatives. High-tech moisture sensors can be obtained at any hardware store and easily attached to your hose bib.
One low-tech alternative is your foot. If you walk across your lawn and the grass springs back, it’s not thirsty -- so don’t water, even if it is your watering day. If it doesn’t spring back and it’s your watering day, give it a thorough soaking. Because of our varying qualities of soil, it may be better to give your lawn and plants two or three shorter waterings in one day rather than one long one, in which the soil cannot absorb all of the moisture. Watch what your lawn and soil do during a watering. If the water begins to run off, observe how long it took for this to happen and limit future waterings to this amount of time.
Using another low-tech moisture sensor, stick an 8-inch screwdriver into the soil. If it is dry when you remove it, repeat the watering, stopping before run-off begins. If the screwdriver comes out moist or muddy, that’s enough water. Instead of over-watering and wasting, you’ve practiced conservation!
How much water does my grass need?
First and foremost, do not simply set your automatic system in the spring and leave it to water the same amount throughout the growing season.
A good rule of thumb for turf grass is to water 1.5 inches per week when the temperature is over 85 degrees. Don’t forget to subtract any rainfall when figuring how much to irrigate.