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Tips to save on water outdoors this summer
How to save water this summer --
• Tune up your sprinklers readjustments (i.e. repair broken, clogged, or misaligned heads).
• Invest in a rain switch or moisture sensor. A rain switch will automatically shut off watering during rain storms, while a moisture sensor "senses" when the soil has dried out and turns sprinklers back on.
• Avoid puddling and runoff. This is evidence of over watering. Typically excess water will evaporate or run off before being absorbed into saturated soil.
• Adjust your automatic timer to coincide with weather changes. Don't set it once and then leave it for the entire watering season. Change your watering schedule and adjust for monthly weather changes.
• Use the right sprinkler in the right place. Turf, trees, flowers, and shrubs sometimes benefit from different types of sprinkling systems (i.e. spray heads v. drip irrigation). Learn what types your plants need.
• Water the plants, not the sidewalk! Adjust your sprinklers so they avoid driveways and sidewalks as much as possible.
• Don't water in the middle of a hot day. Watering when it's cooler allows water to penetrate into the root zone where it can be helpful to the plant. A good rule-of-thumb is to not water between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
• Water deeply. Deep soak your lawn's root zone where the water won't evaporate as quickly and will do the most good for the plant. By using a soil probe (or even a screwdriver), you can determine if your soil is moist in the root zone, and if you need to water. If it's moist, don't water!
• Don't over water. Excess watering means that fertilizers and pesticides will move out of the root zone of the plant, rendering them ineffective. What's worse, is that those toxins can penetrate into the groundwater, impacting water quality and increasing the environmental burden.
• Avoid watering on windy or rainy days. If it's windy, wait a day. If it's rainy, wait a day. Don't water in adverse weather.
• Put soup cans out on your lawn and determine how much time it takes to put 1 inch of water on the ground.
• Avoid watering the entire lawn for the few brown or dry patches.
• Aerate your lawn, then over seed. Aerate in the spring or fall, then over seed with a lawn mix designed for our local conditions.
• Let your grass grow longer, and train your roots to grow deeper. Letting your grass grow longer means less watering, mowing, and improved root depth (and thus, water-use efficiency). Raise mowing height to 2 1/2 to 3 inches so that the lawn can shade itself.
• Turn your lawn into a cannibal. Leaving grass clippings on your lawn to re-absorb into the soil provides a source of nitrogen to growing plants and improves soil moisture holding capacity.
• Realize that MORE is not BETTER. Over fertilizing and over watering your lawn can both lead to lawn health problems. Fertilize in the late fall with a slow-release fertilizer.
• Diversify your landscape. A landscape with trees, bushes, flowers, lawn, and hardscaping can be more water and energy efficient, which can save you money (plus, it looks a lot better).
• Use low-water use and adapted plants and trees. Ask your local nursery professional about Utah-friendly landscape materials, such as low-water use plants, bushes, trees, and turf grasses.
• Mulch It! A good, thick layer of mulch (we're talking 3 to 4 inches here, folks) cools flowerbeds, inhibits weed growth, and slows the evaporation of water from the soil. Place mulch around the bases of trees, shrubs and flowers to reduce evaporation.
• Design for hydrozoning. Consider the water needs of all plants included in your individual irrigation zones. Use plants with similar water needs in the same areas.