Among the three main cultural requirements for maintaining a healthy turf and landscape, watering is the most important for a number of reasons. The others, like mowing and fertilizing, are no doubt impactful, but watering needs are more technical to comprehend, more essential to maintain proper health, and can even cause more harm than good if performed incorrectly. To ensure proper watering and management of your irrigation system, we’ve crafted some simple guidelines to follow to help maximize your landscape asset. Following these simple steps will save money and resources while simultaneously achieving desired sustainability results.
Remember, a well-designed, functional and properly maintained irrigation system is a supplement, not a replacement, for natural rainfall. What this means is that you can save money and prevent overwatering if you irrigate around Mother Nature’s schedule. The biggest mistake most people with irrigation systems make is thinking that the system has to run constantly from April to October.
Watering also depends on plant type, among other factors like soil conditions. So you’ll have to water flowering annuals like begonias more than evergreen shrubs like taxus yews. Some plants like wet soil, others can’t stand wet feet. This basic understanding can help when watering your landscape. Fine fescue lawns like more water than tall fescue, so again, knowing what you are watering helps craft the right strategy.
Not just the number of times the system runs each week, but the time of day it runs is critical. The best time to cycle an irrigation system is in the early morning hours. And when we say early morning, we mean the ideal range from 3AM to 6AM. This is true for many reasons. For starters, the pressure is better when most people are sleeping, rather than running dishwashers and washing machines. It also limits evaporation (sun) and drifting (wind), allowing the maximum output to leach to the root zone, rather than evaporating off in the sun’s heat or blowing into the street in the wind. It also limits turf diseases, which is a very important factor. Watering in the evening promotes disease by keeping the turf wet longer. Watering during the day is inefficient and more expensive.
Cycle the system to perform infrequent, deep watering cycles rather than short, frequent waters. This helps promote healthier root growth. Think of it this way: make the plant do some work to get water. Don’t spoon feed it. Short, shallow watering causes the plant to develop shallow roots because they do not have to go far to reach water. This in turn puts the plant under considerable stress during the heat of the day.
Following these guidelines is a green-green situation. You’ll see green throughout the landscape and save green in the household budget. Consult the professional team at Brian-Kyles to manage your irrigation needs, or to answer your specific irrigation questions.