Recent heavy snows have gotten us off the hook for watering our lawns for awhile. Still, the growing season and watering restrictions are just around the corner. With the weekend warm-up, this is a good time to get to know your sprinkler system better than ever. When you can only water twice a week, you need to make it count.
Here are some tips as we start the growing season:
• You probably won't need to water until well into May, depending on the amount of precipitation in your area and the weather. Check plants that get a lot of sun and don't water until the soil starts to dry out.
• Don't water just because you can. Spring is when the grass roots need to be trained to grow deep in search of water — over-watering only makes the roots lazy and less drought-hardy.
• Finally, know what kinds of sprinkler heads you have on your system and set the timer to water accordingly.
In one minute, different kinds of sprinklers will put out different amounts of water. If you don't know the difference between one that quickly puts down two to three gallons per minute and the one that only emits a half gallon, you will over water and waste water. Or, you will under-water and stress your plants.
You need to know the difference between these three basic types of sprinklers, and then set the timer accordingly.
• Spray heads — spray the most water in one area in the shortest time. They spray one area continuously (they don't turn). In one minute, they emit two to three gallons of water and all sprays in the same place. Running them too long will mean more water than the soil will drink in and you'll have water running down the street.
• Rotor heads — oscillate back and forth. Because they're constantly moving across the lawn, it takes more time to water the lawn thoroughly. This is why you need to set the timer to run the areas with rotor heads longer.
• Drip emitters — not for lawns — but the most efficient way to water veggies, flowers, shrubs and trees. They emit water very slowly, but very efficiently because no water is lost in the wind and there's little evaporation. Areas watered with drip need a much longer operating time.
Cycle, soak is the way to water
Rather than setting the timer to water each part of the landscape only one time on your designated day, water each area more than once, but for a shorter amount of time in each cycle. Scheduling multiples cycles but with shorter times in each cycle, allows the water to penetrate the soil and provides a more thorough watering. It's a more efficient use of water and it keeps water in the soil where the plants can use it.
Information courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, sponsors of the 9News Water Wise Garden and the 9News Kitchen Garden. Visit www.alcc.com.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.