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Conservation tips for the Lawn

Are you puzzled about the best time to water your grass?

Most grasses take on a dull, dark appearance and grass leaves begin to roll when they need water. The best time to water is early morning.

How much do you water?

Grasses in our area need 1 to 1½ inches of water every five days. By watering thoroughly, no more than every five days, you will help your grass develop deeper, more drought tolerant roots during the growing season.

If some areas appear dry after sprinkling, hand water those areas instead of increasing the watering time or turning on the sprinkler system again.

How long should I run my sprinkler?

Remember, you want to apply 1 to 1½ inches of water every five days. First, determine how much water your sprinkler applies:

    • Set three to five empty cans (tuna or pet food size) at different distances around the sprinkler with the last can near the end of the sprinkler coverage.
    • Run the sprinkler for 30 minutes.
    • Add the inches of water in all cans and divide the total inches by the number of cans to obtain an average.
    • Multiply the average by two to determine how many inches of water your sprinkler applies in one hour.

Now you can figure out how long to run your sprinkler to apply 1 to 1½ inches. Rainfall counts too, so if it rains, be sure to reduce the amount you apply with your sprinkler by the rainfall amount. Try using a rain gauge to track rainfall amounts in your yard.

What about trees, shrubs, and groundcovers?

Did you know that over-watering can damage or even kill your trees or shrubs? Since trees and shrubs add value to your home and can cost quite a lot just to get them established it is very important to know when or how much to water. Established plantings do well in the summer when watered about once a week, especially if mulch is placed around plants. Apply enough water to wet the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. Using low output sprinkler heads, bubblers, or drip irrigation systems helps prevent runoff and are efficient ways to water.

TreesIt is very important to make sure that the roots of the plants get watered. Roots usually spread 1½ to 3 times as wide as the plant’s leaf base and generally penetrate two to three feet deep, depending on the size of the plant. To see if the root base has received sufficient water simply stick a thin metal rod or stick into the base of the root system. Water will allow the stick or rod to be easily inserted. If you reach an area where the stick or rod can no longer be inserted, you have probably found a dry area. Measure the approximate depth of the root base and if you were able to insert the rod or stick down the correct number of inches you have watered enough. Note: While you are watering watch to see how long it takes you to sufficiently water the plant. After you have completed watering the plant and tested to ensure the root base has been sufficiently irrigated you will probably need to water that plant the same length of time. Remember to adjust your watering times if the weather changes.

New plantings require more frequent watering in the first two years. When purchasing new or replacement plants, consider Texas Water Smart varieties that are native or adaptive to this area.

Special conditions, soil, and slopes

Before you set up a watering schedule consider that weather, plant maturity and type, root depth, and soil type affect plant watering needs.

Remember…

    • Sandy soil requires more frequent watering than loam or clay soils.
    • Apply water slowly to loam and clay soils to prevent runoff.
    • To avoid runoff on sloping areas, place sprinklers near the top of the slope. Apply water slowly for 5 to 15 minutes, off 15 minutes, on 5 to 15 minutes, etc. until the correct amount of water has been applied.
    • Fertilize in the spring and fall with a slow release nitrogen product, such as a 15-5-10 mix.