Landscape Logic: Water plants with the cycle-and-soak method
Now that temperatures are finally rising in Colorado, it’s time to think about how to water your landscape sufficiently yet efficiently. Water providers and sustainability experts talk about the “cycle-and-soak” method, but what does that really mean?
Water briefly, then let it soak in
Cycle-and-soak is pretty simple: Put some water onto your plants and soil, and wait until it is absorbed before you add more. Watering other areas while you wait creates the cycle.
If you have an irrigation system, program it to cycle through each zone for a short period of time in each zone, then go back through them again. While the water is falling on one zone, it can be absorbed into the soil of the previous zone. That prevents water from pooling on the surface of the soil and running off.
Manual watering cycles
If you are manually moving your sprinkler, reposition it around the yard more often, and go back to each area to water again.
For example, if the recommendation from your landscape professional or local water utility is to let the water run for 15 minutes in each zone (area), one method of cycle-and-soak would be to run each zone for 5 minutes at a time, then repeat that process two more times. The water will have a better chance of reaching the roots of your plants rather than running off and watering your sidewalk or the street.
Don’t set it and forget it
You will need to observe your landscape to decide how long each cycle should be. And keep in mind that the length of each watering cycle will change due to the conditions, and some zones may need more water than others. You might need longer cycles in the heat of midsummer. Keep an eye on it — or rely on a landscape professional to monitor your landscape water use —to be sure you’re only using what you need.