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Irrigation Tips
Consider plant materials
With all irrigation, try to match the type of irrigation system and sprinkler heads to the plant materials to be watered. This will insure that your system works most efficiently, and the turf and plants get the kind of irrigation they need.

Tips for efficient irrigation
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 watering cycles 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 watering 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.

How can I get the most from my in-ground irrigation system? 

  • Spray heads are best suited for use on turf areas. Drip irrigation can be used for a         variety of applications simply by selecting the head or emitter best suited for the plant material you are planning to water.
  • Space sprinkler heads so the spray of one head hits near the head of the next head. This will increase the watering efficiency.
  • Reduce evaporation by operating your system at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure -- pounds per square inch. This will help reduce “misting.” The pressure ranges are as follows:
    • Rotor 50-60 pounds per square inch
    • Spray 20-30 pounds per square inch
    • Drip 10-25 pounds per square inch
  • Use a rain sensor. Rain sensors interrupt the irrigation cycle on your controller when adequate rainfall has occurred.
  • Adjust the direction of the sprinkler heads. Be sure the water is going only on the plant material, not pavement.

How can I get the most from my drip irrigation system?

Drip irrigation applies water directly to the soil at the root zone of the plant material. Choose the right emitter for each application to achieve the highest efficiency possible. Drippers, bubblers, soakers and micro-sprayers are different types of heads used on drip systems.

  1. Drip emitters, also referred to as point-source drip, generally apply water at rates of one-half, one or two gallons per hour; bubblers are slightly higher. Higher flows are best for sandy soils, while lower flows should be used with clay soils.
  2. Soakers (in-line emitters), also known as dripper line, slowly release moisture from regular points along the length of a flexible soaker line. This product is well-suited for vegetable rows, densely planted flowers, shrubs and groundcover or around trees.
  3. Micro-sprayers use the most water in a drip system, up to 15 gallons per hour. However, this still is considerably less than standard spray heads. These are best for ground covers, flowerbeds and pots, when the plant material requires more humidity.
  4. Subsurface drip irrigation works great for turf, but it must be installed properly.

It is very important to install drip irrigation systems as the manufacturer recommends in order to avoid operating problems and to get the most from the system. Also, each spring, check for leaks and broken or damaged components. Drip components tend to be smaller and more delicate than other more traditional forms of irrigation and therefore can break more easily and lead to slightly higher maintenance.

Castle Rock, CO
100 N. Wilcox St.
Castle Rock, CO 80104
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