Outdoor Conservation

Watersense®

  • Take steps each day to save water and protect the environment by choosing WaterSense® labeled products in your home, yard, and business.
  • Learn more about WaterSense and how we can all get more by using less.

Manage Your Watering System

While up to 90% of the water used outdoors is for irrigation, having a beautiful landscape doesn’t have to mean using a lot of water.

Watering by hand is most efficient, but if your home is one of the more than 13.5 million with an in-ground irrigation system, try some of these simple strategies to reduce your water waste and protect the environment.

  • Adjust your irrigation system often – Get to know the settings on your irrigation controller. Adjust its watering schedule regularly to conform to seasonal weather conditions.
  • Play “zone” defense – Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for the type of sprinkler; sun or shade exposure; and type of plants and soil in the specific area. The same watering schedule rarely applies to all zones in the system.
  • Inspect your irrigation system monthly – Check for leaks, broken or clogged heads, and misdirected spray heads.
  • Install low-volume micro-irrigation for gardens, trees, and shrubs – Micro-irrigation includes drip (also known as trickle), micro-spray jets, micro-sprinklers, or bubbler irrigation.
  • Tips to Water Wisely from WaterPAK (PDF)

Timing is Everything

  • No matter what kind of yard or landscape you have, it’s important to know exactly how much water your plants need before you turn on the sprinkler.
  • Keeping the following questions in mind when you do water can help you maintain a beautiful and healthy yard without wasting water or money:
When?
  • Avoid watering in the middle of the day when the hot sun will evaporate much of the water before it can get to thirsty plants.
How Often & How Long?
Lawns

Water lawns 20 minutes twice a week for a total of 1 inch per week.

4 Steps to Correct Lawn Watering

1. Check and repair clogged or broken sprinkler heads.
Look for sprinklers that may be set into the ground too deeply. Sprinkler heads should be vertical and unobstructed.

2. Find out how long it takes your system to apply 1 inch.
Check your sprinkler head manufacturer performance charts or do the "tuna can test." Spray heads usually deliver water at a rate of 1.5 inches per hour; Rotors at a rate of .75 inches per hour.

3. Use a timer or controller to set your watering schedule.
On slopes or with clay soil, break up your irrigation run times into two or three cycles to allow the water to soak into the ground. Example: if it takes 20 minutes to apply 1/2 inch of water, schedule 5 minute cycles with an hour in between.

Month Time Irrigation Interval
Start up June 1 Approximately 20 minutes Once every 4 days
July Approximately 20 minutes Once every 3 days
August Approximately 20 minutes Once every 3 days
Shut down September 1

This schedule is based on average weather and average soils. Extremely hot weather and sandy soils may require occasional irrigation a day sooner. Cool weather may allow you to skip or postpone a scheduled watering.

4. Install a rain sensor to shut off your system during wet weather.
Don't irrigate in the rain!

Remember: A cross control device must be installed on all irrigation systems.

Perennials & Shrubs

Test the soil for dryness at the root zone and only water when dry. Water Shrubs and Perennials approximately 30 minutes per week – never more than 1 inch per week.

5 Steps to Correct Watering of Shrubs and Perennials

1. Know your plants.

  • Read the Water Saving Plant List to learn more.
  • Many established shrubs and perennial only need water in the driest of weather.
  • Native plants and drought tolerant plants don't need watering once established.
  • Group plants with the same watering needs together.

2. Know your soil.
Amend your soil with 3 inches of organic material to provide proper drainage.

3. Dig down 3 inches before you water.
Use a trowel or soil probe to test the dryness of the soil.

4. Get water to the roots.

  • Water deeply with 1 inch of water.
  • Hand watering, drip systems, soaker hose or micro spray heads are ideal.
  • Water garden beds separately from lawns.
  • Water in the morning when it is cool

5. Mulch. Apply mulch or compost 2 or 3 inches to hold moisture in the soil. Beauty bark does not count.

This is based on average summer temperatures and average soils. Always check to assure that water has infiltrated to the root zone. Don't forget: Back flow devices are required for all irrigation systems.

Annuals & Veggies

Water annual and veggie gardens deeply for approximately 30 minutes every 3 days for a total of 1 inch per week.

8 Steps to Correct Watering of Vegetable & Annual Gardens

1. Compost your garden soil with 3 inches of organic material before planting in the spring. Properly amended soil acts as a sponge to hold in water.

2. Pick a method of watering. Get water to the roots. Drip systems, soaker hoses or micro spray heads are ideal.

3. Water newly planted seeds and transplants daily until established.

4. Know your plants. Some plants need more water than others.

5. Water when the soil is dry at the plant's root zone. Vegetables and annuals should be watered deeply, but, too much water can suffocate your plants.

6. Set a timer to deeply deliver water every 3 days.

7. Water in early morning while it is cool to prevent excess evaporation.

8. Mulch your garden with straw or other organic material. This will hold in moisture.

This schedule is based on average weather and average soils. Extremely hot weather and sandy soils may require an occasional irrigation a day sooner. Cool weather may allow you to skip or postpone a scheduled watering.

What Else?
  • Make sure your irrigation system has a rain sensor that shuts off the system when it rains and allows it to turn back on when it stops.
  • Remember: A cross control connection must be installed on all irrigation systems. For information on cross connections, please call 360-626-7741.