To help you create a water wise landscape, here are some great watering tips that you can use throughout the growing season. These practices will not only save you money on your water bills, but will help the environment and provide you with a healthy landscape for years to come.
1. The most efficient time to water is between 10pm and 8am. It is cooler and less windy, minimizing evaporation. Irrigating during this period does not lead to disease development, as once thought.
2. Irrigate thoroughly, but as infrequently as possible. Look for wilting of landscape plants to determine the need for watering. Turf will hold footprint or change to a dull grey color when it needs water.
3. On average, small shrubs need 5 gallons of water per week; large shrubs need 10 gallons per week; trees need 2 gallons per inch diameter (measured at 4.5′ above the ground per week; flower beds need 5 gallons of water per 10 square feet. (1 minute of water at medium pressure); and lawns require about 1/2-1″ water per week, depending on the grass type. High use turf areas may need more frequent irrigation. Automatic irrigation systems should be designed with separate zones for turf and plant bed areas to ensure you do not overwater.
4. Any newly installed landscape takes time to establish. New turf may need daily watering, while new trees and shrubs may need watering once or twice a week depending, on rainfall and temperatures. During hot, dry conditions plants may need more frequent watering. Proper establishment can take several months followed by supplemental watering during periods of dry weather, regardless of the time of year.
5. If hand watering, use a water breaker on the end of your hose to deliver an even gentle flow to the base of the plants. Typical garden hoses deliver 5 gallons of water per minute. Use 5 gallon buckets with small holes in the bottom, use watering bags and soaker hoses in the bottom, use watering bags and soaker hoses or install automatic drip systems. Apply water at root zone. Drip systems use 50% less water than sprinklers.
6. To prevent runoff, do not apply water at a rate than exceeds your soil’s ability to absorb the water. Apply water over a longer period in smaller amounts.
7. Make sure your automatic irrigation system has a rain sensor to turn off when sufficient rain has fallen. Have your irrigation system evaluated annually to prevent water waste. Don’t water the sidewalk, driveway, or street!
8. Decide before summer heat and dry conditions arrive whether to water your turf or let it go dormant. Letting grass go brown and then watering to green it up again can rob it of energy reserves. Either water regularly or let it go into dormancy.
9. Vacations offer a concern, particularly during the summer, so have a friend or neighbor tend your plants while you are away.
10. Each plant type has a distinct rooting area. Thoroughly water the root zone for that particular plant type and then let it partially dry out before watering again. Rain means you do not have to worry for at least a week.
11. Plants in containers may need more frequent watering than plants in the ground. First, make sure the containers have drainage holes to prevent overly wet roots. Water when soil surface feels dry, not before. Frequency and amount of water depend on soil type, location, sunlight, temperature and type of plant. Some plants, like Fucshia (we carry them as an annual in hanging baskets or small pots), may need daily watering, but most containers only need a thorough watering two times a week.
12. Don’t overwater. Many plants that are overwatered will wilt or the leaves will turn brown. This often leads us to water even more. Follow the guideslines presented here. If in doubt stick your fingers in the soil, under the mulch, and check the soil wetness. With sufficient rain, it is not necessary to water.
*This is from NC State University/A&T State University Cooperative Extension’s “Waterwise Works.”