Even though it was raining during our most recent WFAA Green Segment, it’s always a good time to talk about when and how to water our lawns in the heat of the summer. Whether Mother Nature takes care of it, or we set a schedule on our irrigation controllers, keeping our landscapes healthy without over watering is an important tool in conserving our most precious resource. Water Expert Denise Hickey and Horticulturalist Patrick Dickinson gave us lots of useful information about how to help our lawns and landscapes survive the last blast of summer.
Heat + Sunshine Does Not Always = A Thirsty Lawn
Just because its hot outside, that doesn’t always mean our landscapes need water. If you are planting the proper plant material like native and adaptive plants, then supplemental watering is not as necessary. If you water deeper and less often, then plants will grow deeper roots, and a deeper root system is a more drought tolerant and cold hardy plant.
It is also important to remember that when it comes to watering your lawn, we can water up to 2 times per week if needed. That second day should only be used to water only if it is truly needed. So, how do you know when to water, or when to wait? It’s best to use a soil moisture meter. Insert the device into the soil about six to eight inches and check the readings. You can accomplish a similar result with a less high-tech device – your average screwdriver. Similar to testing whether a cake is done in the oven, if the screwdriver goes into the soil easily and comes out moist, there is no need to water. If the screwdriver doesn’t penetrate the ground easily and comes out dry, time to turn on the sprinkler.
When & How To Water
If you need to water, do so after 6 p.m. and before 10 a.m. from the beginning of April through October. A good rule of thumb is to use Halloween through St. Patrick’s Day as your guide. Just like you check your smoke alarm batteries when set our clocks for daylight savings, it’s good to check irrigation systems for leaks, broken or misdirected sprinklers. If you find any, get those repaired right away and before using your system. The EPA estimates that leaks the size of a ballpoint pen could waste up to 6,300 gallons per month!
Learn important practices on how you can determine how often and how long you need to water to have a flourishing landscape at WaterUniversity.tamu.edu. They have step-by-step instructions on the catch can test and cycle and soak method. And remember, if your automatic sprinkler controller doesn’t let you run multiple cycles or attach a rain/freeze sensor, then its time for a new controller.
Watch the full segment below and sign up at WaterMyYard.org to know when to water and when to wait.