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Irrigation Efficiency

The rule in scheduling your irrigation is water conservation; keeping your lawn healthy with the least amount of water. There are many variables involved, so it’s important to understand some basics. First of all, each lawn has unique characteristics like soil composition and exposure to sun. Clay soils and shady areas require less water than sunny, sandy areas. When assessing your situation, make sure you consider these conditions and adjust accordingly. To establish a healthy, drought resistant lawn the roots have to be driven deep into the soil. Your irrigation system should be programmed to water consistently and evenly. If you simply turn your system off when it rains, then back on when it’s starts to dry out, the roots don’t get a chance to grow deeper. A rain sensor will help with the timing. The goal is to apply even amounts of water over the entire area. This is the most important area in watering savings.

The optimum time to water is early morning (4am to 7am). There are several reasons for this. Grass absorbs water through its roots. The deeper the roots are, the better. Because grass uses water through the roots, it’s important that the water is at root level when photosynthesis occurs. Watering in the early morning allows time for the water to perk into the ground ready for the sun. Not only is the water in the root zone where it can be utilized, it’s also beyond where the sun can evaporate it away. The idea is to maintain a moisture level in the soil, not simply to get the grass wet every day. Since this is the case it’s easy to see why watering in the middle of the day is such a bad idea. During the height of summer when evaporation rates are higher, over half the water you put down never makes it to the root zone. This means that you need to water at least twice as much as you do when you water in the early morning. Watering in the evening or overnight is not recommended because much of the water has passed through the root zone by the time sun comes up the next day. Also, allowing water to sit on the lawn while the grass isn’t active overnight may make your lawn a desirable host for disease.

Consistency is the key to determining how many days to water. If your lawn is healthy with decent soil, every other day should be sufficient even during hot/dry conditions. However, you may find that you can’t seem to maintain a proper moisture level at every other day. Some soils are simply too sandy to hold the water at a proper level and need to be watered more often, even every day. This can also apply to a newer lawn that hasn’t matured its root zone yet. If you water each day, expect to water for shorter periods than you would on an every other day routine. With a little attention to your irrigation needs, you can have a beautiful lawn while managing your watering successfully and responsibly.

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