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With growing demands for water and drought conditions in parts of the country, many are looking for ways to reduce their water usage. Experts say there are several simple actions homeowners can take in the yard that can immediately save both water and money. No longer must you choose between replacing your lawn and saving water.
“We often see sprinklers watering sidewalks and drives, running during the rain, or sending water down the drain from leaky heads,” said Josh Friell, Ph. D, senior agronomist of The Toro Company’s Center for Advanced Turf Technology. “The good news is there are simple, cost-effective actions homeowners can take that can save up to 30% in outdoor water usage alone.”
Toro recommends these lawn-care watering tips:
First Things First
Most timed sprinklers water in the early morning, without homeowner attention. At the beginning of the season, run each zone briefly during daylight hours to see how the system is operating. Look for broken lines or damaged sprinkler heads, and inspect spray patterns to ensure water isn’t being wasted.
When to Water
Experts suggest watering deeply and infrequently. This helps wet the entire root zone and encourages deeper root growth, which in turn makes turfgrass better able to tolerate mild to moderate drought. It is best to water in the early morning around 4 to 5 a.m., as this gives the lawn time to absorb the moisture and prevents evaporation due to daytime heat.
How Much to Water
During summer months, your grass should receive between 1 to 1 ½ inches of water each week, including the natural precipitation it receives. Water requirements vary by turf variety, local weather conditions, and site conditions such as shade. Your local university extension office can be a good source of information to assist in understanding local conditions. The total water applied can be determined by placing a rain gauge or empty tuna cans around your yard prior to an irrigation cycle. Another option is to install of a wireless soil moisture sensor, like the Toro Precision Soil Sensor, which fits almost any controller and installs in minutes. This helps eliminate guesswork by continuously monitoring soil moisture levels to prevent the system from overwatering.
Limit Water Intake
Friell says a general rule to keep in mind is that turf-grass does better managed on the dry side rather than wet. When soil is constantly wet, the grass roots are deprived of oxygen and may become more susceptible to disease.
When in Drought
Avoid lawn mowing during heat and drought. Lawns under such stress are limited in their ability to recover from mowing and can be damaged even more. Instead, mow the grass after a rainfall or after an irrigation day. Finally, maintaining higher mowing heights will help turf tolerate the heat and drought of summer. Doing so also requires less frequent mowing, which means more time to enjoy your lawn!
Many cities and water agencies across the U.S. offer water conservation and rebate programs to homeowners to encourage adoption of more efficient irrigation solutions.