Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Smart water use keeps lawns green

Here is an article by Michael Womack that was published in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

Saturday, August 18, 2001
Smart water use keeps lawns green

This week the city imposed restrictions on lawn watering to once every five days. It is important, now more than ever, to make every drop count.

Grass is the first order of business. Turf areas can be one of the greatest water users. Adjust your mower to a higher setting and mow less frequently. Even allowing your grass to grow a half-inch taller or going a few extra days between mowing cycles will help to reduce watering due to reduced soil evaporation and transpiration, water loss through the leaves.

Another tip is to decrease watering frequency while increasing the duration of each watering.

Increasing the time between watering will allow the grass to develop a deeper root system. Be careful to watch for runoff. It may be necessary to water your lawn, section by section for a shorter duration, maybe 15 minutes, then go back later and run through the irrigation cycle again. The second watering will allow more water to be absorbed into the soil as opposed to simply running off.

Remember that grass will let you know when it needs water. The blades will fold or close up and the green color will become dull. Another sign is that grass will not immediately bounce back when you walk across it.

Use large droplet sprinklers. The larger drops actually weigh more and are more likely to reach the soil than fine mists. Mists quickly evaporate and should be avoided.

Another irrigation chore is to inspect the system for leaks and broken sprinkler heads. Mis-adjusted sprinkler heads can also waste water by delivering water to cement rather than to plants.

For potted plants, remember these hints. First, smaller pots and hanging baskets will dry out faster. Also, root-bound plants will not hold as much water in the pots. Keep plants in pots that will allow roots to expand. Also, if potted plants do dry out, remember that you will have to water the plants several times to break the water tension of the soil and allow it to become fully saturated.

Reducing fertilization will also help to decrease water demand. You can decrease the amount of fertilizer at each application or increase the duration between fertilizer applications.

This practice will prevent lush, vigorous growth and reduce the water needs of the plant.

Adding mulch to flower beds will help to reduce soil surface evaporation, cool the soil and reduce weeds. Organic mulches like pine bark or cypress mulch are more water-wise than gravel or rocks. Organic mulches, however, will break down over time and must be supplemented. Inspect beds to ensure that there is still at least 3 inches of organic mulch to maximize the benefit.

Whenever possible, keep potted plants out of direct sun to reduce water consumption. Grouping potted plants together will also help to keep them from drying out quite as fast.

Another suggestion is to avoid putting plants on cement or in front of brick or stucco walls. These surfaces reflect heat and cause the plant to use more water.

Remember that the new restrictions do not allow watering between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. when prime evaporation conditions exist. Also, lawns may only be watered once every five days based on your street address. Shrubs and trees can still be hand-watered more frequently, but only in the early morning and evening.

No comments: