Studies show that approximately 70% of residential water use occurs outside the home. The majority of this is used to irrigate landscapes. Therefore it is essential that residential property owners pay close attention to how they utilize this most precious natural resource - water. Here are some essential guidelines for efficient landscape watering.
Know Your Irrigation Components
Most homeowners know where their irrigation controller and irrigation valves are located. But too often the rest is a mystery. Take the time to understand what other components are inside those valve boxes and underground. It will save you time and money and isn't as complicated as it may seem. Here is a checklist of irrigation components that you should be able to locate on your residential irrigation system:
- Water Meter (this is the box in the ground that measures how much water you use inside and outside)
- Water service shut off to the home
- Water service shut off to the irrigation system
- Irrigation system backflow preventer
- Irrigation main line (between backflow preventer and irrigation valves)
- Irrigation controller
- Irrigation system valves
- Drip station pressure reducer (drip valves only)
- Drip station filter (drip valves only)
- Underground piping after valves (pvc or black poly)
- Drip emitter "spaghetti" lines (drip valves only)
- Drip emitters drippers (drip valves only)
- Flush cap (drip valves only)
If you don't know where some of these components are feel free to contact the Environmental Resources Division for assistance. We're here to help. Remember, knowing your irrigation system components (and what they do) is the first step in using water wisely.
Landscape Watering Guidelines
How much to water? That is the question asked most often by most residential homeowners. It is a difficult question to answer without more detail. For example, to be able to answer this question you must also know what type of plant is being watered, approximate age of the plant, what time of year it is, what the soil conditions are, etc. The list goes on. Fortunately, the folks at Water Use It Wisely have developed a handy Landscape Watering Guidelines card (at right) for your irrigation controller and / or refrigerator. Remember, this schedule determines your watering frequency, not how long you should run your irrigation controller. The next section on How to Water will address how to water...when we actually water. If you'd like a Landscape Watering Guidelines card as the one shown here simply contact the Environmental Resources Division at the contact information below. We'll send it you. Otherwise click on the one to the right for a printer friendly version.
How to Water
How to water is just as important a question as when to water. When we irrigate our landscape plants it is important to remember two things - water deeply and infrequently. That is, when watering it is best to water to the roots...not just the top several inches of soil. As a rule of thumb use the 1-2-3 rule: water to a depth of one foot for small perennials, flowers, and grass; water to a depth of two feet for shrubs and mid-sized plants; water to a depth of three feet for large shrubs and trees. Remember, the roots will grow to where the water is. The deeper the roots grow the healthier, more drought and wind tolerant, and beautiful your landscape plants will be. As always, feel free to contact Environmental Resources with any questions you might have.
Interested in learning more? Click HERE to visit our Water Conservation Publication page where you'll find a great deal of other information on landscape watering, landscape plants, and landscape design. We'd be happy to send you a packet of these publications free of charge.
Have a landscape watering question? Click HERE to visit our Ask an Irrigation Expert a Question page and submit your question. We can usually work through your question. If not, we can schedule a field visit to take a closer look.
Landscape watering is one of the many subjects regularly covered in our free Sustainable University classes. Whether you're interested in this subject, backyard composting, gardening, going solar or energy efficiency Sustainable University has you covered. Click HERE to visit the Sustainable U page and for more information on upcoming courses and workshops.
Environmental Resources Supervisor
Administrative Assistant II