10 Steps to Wise Watering

1. Water lawns and planting beds according to their needs

  • Check soil moisture before watering by inserting a six-inch screwdriver into the soil. If the screwdriver can be easily inserted, you don’t need to water.

2. Know when to water

  • Water only around 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., never during the heat of the day or when the wind is blowing.

  • Water when footprints or mower tracks are visible on the turf or there are large bluish-gray patches.

  • Water once or twice a month during the dry, warm months of winter.

  • Deep-root water trees within the dripline* to a depth of 12”.

*The dripline is the area at the ground level that mirrors the canopy of the tree.

3. Properly deal with brown spots

  • Respond to brown spots with targeted hand watering.

  • Check the coverage of sprinklers or improperly adjusted heads/nozzles.

  • Look for broken lines or heads and clogged nozzles that result in poor spray patterns.

4. Know when to skip the water

  • Don’t water on cool, cloudy days or days following a half inch or more of rain.

 5. Optimize your sprinkler system

  • Upgrade or install drip irrigation or underground watering systems to help limit evaporation and water roots more efficiently.

  • Design or redesign your yard to include separate watering zones for trees, flowerbeds, gardens and lawns.

  • Verify that watering time is appropriate for each zone. A shade zone requires less water than a hot, sunny area. Cooler seasons require less water compared to hot summer months. Adjust the length of watering time per zone from spring to fall.

  • Check your timer to ensure it meets your local watering restrictions.

  • Consider installing timer upgrades.

6. Use best practices when watering with a hose

  • Use household timers to remind you to move or stop soaker hoses and sprinklers.

  • Check sprinklers to verify adequate watering levels – you can do this easily by using a shallow dish to measure the water collected and determine watering time.

7. Understand that aeration is crucial to a healthy lawn

  • Aeration relieves soil compaction and allows better water, air and fertilizer penetration, resulting in less water runoff and better plant health.

  • For best results, aerate under moderate moisture conditions.

8. Mow efficiently

  • Set your mower at the highest level possible and make sure the blade is sharp.

  • Leave clippings on the lawn to recycle nutrients back into the soil.

9. Fertilize appropriately

  • Consider applying iron fertilizers moderately. Reduce nitrogen application rates.

  • Fertilize in summer with a slow-release fertilizer. In the fall, follow product recommendations.

10. Use mulch

  • Apply mulch to reduce evaporation, retain moisture, and control weeds.