Watering properly is one of the best ways to ensure you have a beautiful lawn and garden, and will help lower your water bill as well. Here are a few water-wise tips that can make a big impact on water savings and plant health.
* First off, consider converting your overhead irrigation to drip irrigation for all non-lawn areas if you haven't already done so. This concentrates the water where it needs to be (around the plant root ball) while eliminating excess runoff and evaporation.
* Water early in the morning when the temperatures are cooler and the sun isn't as intense. Thus, more water will penetrate your plants instead of evaporating into the air. The best time is between 4:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.
* When hand watering, make sure to place your nozzle near the base of the plant instead of above the plant where water is wasted wetting the foliage.
* Water lawns more deeply instead of more frequently as it gets hotter. You should have your timers set to water only until your lawn reaches the point of runoff. After that no additional water can be absorbed.
Most lawns can get by on 20-30 minutes of water every three days. They may not look as good but they will survive, and it will be better for them in the long run. Deeper watering encourages the roots to go down further to chase the water which results in less heat stress on the roots.
* Raise the mowing height on your mower. Taller grass cools and shelters the roots below, helping to reduce the need for more frequent watering.
* Add a granulated soil conditioner to the lawn to help break up compacted soil particles and aerate your soil, allowing roots to penetrate deeper into the soil. This also helps the lawn become more resistant to pests, disease and weeds.
* Cover open areas around plants and trees with a 2"-3" layer of mulch to reduce evaporation, keep the soil moist and cool, and to help prevent weeds.
* Make sure to pull weeds as needed to reduce competition for water, and feed your garden at least quarterly to help your plants stay healthy and strong. Use a plant food with lower, slow-release nitrogen to prevent rampant, soft, fleshy new growth that uses lots of water.
* Add a granulated soil polymer to potting soil when planting in containers. It expands when watered, holding water in the soil longer.
* Leave a two-inch space between the top of the soil and the rim of your container so that there is enough room for holding water without its flowing down the sides of your pot. Place a layer of mulch or bark on top of the soil to help retain moisture.
By incorporating these garden tips every year--year-round and not just in dry periods--your garden will not only be set up to survive dry conditions, but will also use less water all year round.
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