Saving Water Outdoors
Learn How to Water Your Lawn Properly
There are a number of factors that will determine how much water your lawn needs and the frequency of watering. What type of grass you have, the slope of your lawn, how much sun or shade your yard gets and what type of soil are all big factors that impact how you should water. Clay soils (our “black gumbo”) will hold water longer but are difficult to water without runoff. Several short water cycles can help penetration. Sandy soils may require short and more frequent waterings. Likewise, southern or western exposures will need more frequent watering than north facing or shaded areas.
Many people think they must water every day or every other day to have green and healthy turf. This is a common misconception that wastes water and actually weakens your lawn. Horticulturalists recommend watering your lawn deeply and infrequently to promote a strong root system.
Most grasses only need one inch of water every five to ten days in the heat of summer. How long must you water to apply one inch? It depends on the type of irrigation equipment, water pressure, wind and how much sun your yard gets. To measure how much water your system puts out, set out several six ounce tuna or cat food cans in the path of your sprinklers. These cans are one inch deep, so when they are full, you’ve applied one inch of water! Be sure to watch for run-off on some soils that cannot absorb the water quickly. You may need to water these soils for a few minutes to soften the soil, wait 10 or 15 minutes and then resume watering. While this may sound like a lot of effort, you’ll only have to “get acquainted” with your soil’s watering needs one time, after that, you’ll know how long it will take to apply an inch of water.
Don’t forget to include rainwater in your water total. Check your rain gauge – if your lawn has gotten an inch of rainwater within a week or so, you probably don’t need to water. If it’s gotten a half inch of water, you only need to supplement that with another half inch.
Please keep in mind that if your landscape is accustomed to being watered every other day, you may need to slowly cut back on your watering. The roots may be shallow and they will need some time to grow, so it may take a few weeks before you can “wean your lawn.”
Use sprinklers that throw big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
Click here for seasonal water tips and a suggested watering schedule by month (depending on the type of irrigation used).
Water Your Lawn Only When It Needs It
Watch your lawn for signs of stress. If the St. Augustine blades of grass “roll”, if the Bermuda gets a bluish cast or if you leave foot prints on the grass after walking on it, your lawn needs water.
The best time to water is in the early morning, when evaporation rates are at their lowest, there is little wind and water pressure is at its best. Grasses are also less likely to develop diseases or pest problems if watered in the morning.
Automatic Sprinkler Systems
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has determined that homes with in-ground automatic irrigation systems use 35% more water than those without irrigation systems. And those households using automatic timers for their irrigation systems use 47% more than their neighbors with in-ground systems operating their systems manually.
If you use your automatic sprinkler system, be sure that it does not water sidewalks, driveways or the street. Also be sure that all the sprinkler heads are in good working order and that your system has no leaks.
As a service to our customers, Dallas Water Utilities is conducting FREE automatic irrigation system check-ups. For more information or to schedule your automatic sprinkler system check-up, call (214) 670-3155.
Other Ways to Save Water Outside
If you have a swimming pool, check it for leaks and be sure to cover it when it is not in use. Pool covers will save up to 90 percent of the water lost to evaporation.
Use a broom to wash your driveway—not a hose.
When you wash your car, use a commercial car wash that recycles the water. This saves water and helps prevent water pollution.
Click here for links to useful information that can help one prepare and maintain their landscapes in times of drought.