Guidelines for Sensible Watering

Choose the right plant for the right place. You’ll use less water if you avoid putting a wetland plant on a dry site or a shade lover in full sun.

Water only those plants that need supplemental water. The following plants do not need water, as long as they were sited correctly in the first place:

— established trees and shrubs

— established perennials and ornamental grasses

— established lawns (see below)

Water correctly during establishment. Newly installed plants need time to grow their roots into the new soil. This is called establishment. Establishment takes from a few days to a full growing season for perennials, a full growing season for shrubs, and several years for trees. During this time, most plants need supplemental water during dry periods. Provide a total of 1 to 1½” of water per week during dry periods only. This includes both rainfall and irrigation.

Water deeply but infrequently. Many people water their lawns for a very brief time almost daily. This kind of shallow watering encourages shallow root growth (and fungus infections), whereas infrequent, deep watering encourages healthy root growth.

 Water at the right time. The best time is early in the morning. Bad times are during bright sunlight or rain.

Retrofit sprinkler systems to save water. For example, install sensors that detect soil moisture. Replace sprinkler heads with targeted units that direct water only on to the plants (not on to hardscape).

Tolerate dormant lawns in summer. Most lawn grasses are cool-season species that go dormant (turn brown) during our hot summers. They green up again as soon as the weather cools off in fall.

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