Best ways to water lawns, landscapes in summer heat

Published on Saturday, 3 August 2013 15:47 - Written by By Chad Gulley Smith County Extension Agent

Water is a limited resource in Texas and it becomes more limited as the population swells. Water demand in Texas is projected to increase by 22 percent between 2010 and 2060. As a result, protecting water resources and utilizing water-conservation practices will be essential to sustain the state’s water supply-and-demand balance.

Watering the home lawn properly can improve grass quality yet still conserve water for future generations. Many times, home lawns are over-watered and over-watering can harm lawn quality more than under-watering.

Water can be conserved in the home lawn by proper fertilization, mowing, controlling thatch, reducing soil compaction and considering the salt content of the water in the area. Proper fertilization promotes healthy plant shoot and root development. The deeper the root system the plant is better able to use water held deep within the soil. Proper mowing is also important. Frequent mowing produces thicker, denser turf.

Many different irrigation systems are available for you to purchase and install. Routinely inspect the system to make sure irrigation heads are working properly and the water is being evenly distributed over the lawn. Proper pressure is important for the system. Install rain sensors to shut off the system during periods of rainfall. Sprinklers should be turned so they do not water sidewalks, driveways and streets. Replace any part of the irrigation system that is in need of repair such as broken lines, clogged sprinkler heads or realign sprinkler heads to provide a more even distribution of water. Remember that in water conservation, every drop counts.

Water your landscape early in the morning or late in the evening for a more efficient water usage during hot summer months. When watering during the heat of the day, most of the water can be lost to evaporation. It is recommended to water early before 10 a.m. or late after 6 p.m. to best utilize the water. One inch of water on the lawn every seven days can maintain the lawn and encourages deeper roots for our grass species.

In many communities throughout Texas, 30 percent to 50 percent (or more) of the total water is used for landscape irrigation. With droughts putting a strain on public water supplies in 2011 and 2012, rainwater harvesting offers an alternative water source that benefits everyone.

Rainwater harvest is a practice that has been around for a while. When rainfall events occur, have water catchment systems in place to catch the rainfall and utilize it for landscape irrigation. There are rainwater harvest systems out there that can work for your landscape. Rainwater can be store in the proper containers and used when needed to reduce water use from wells or other water supplies.

A raingarden is an artificial depression in the landscape that collects and stores stormwater runoff until it can infiltrate the soil. A raingarden is an approach to rainwater harvesting that can prevent flooding and erosion and turn stormwater problems into water supply assets by slowing run-off and allowing it to soak into the ground. Raingardens are not ponds. They are usually planted with native vegetation that is hardy and attractive. Plants in a raingarden can give color to the landscape at all times of the year. Raingardens can be designed for an individual yard or a neighborhood. They provide a habitat for many animals including birds, butterflies and other insects.

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