How To Conserve Landscape Water Right Now
Roger’s Gardens Vision: We believe in beautiful environments that sustain the planet and its people.
1. Reduce or stop watering your lawn
It may sound drastic, but it is the most water conserving single action you can do. Assume your lawn is 40% of your landscaped area. By turning off the water to that lawn you will save about 57% of your irrigation water use.
That’s huge and way more than will ever be required. If your grass is only 20% of your outdoor space, you will still save 29% of your water. And best of all, you can still have the rest of your beautiful garden – with no dry plants and no other changes!
2. Upgrade to a weather-sensitive irrigation controller
Imagine programming your home air conditioning and heating system to come on and turn off at specific pre-set times and durations, regardless of temperature. Imagine keeping those settings for the rest of the year.
That is still how many irrigation controllers are operating. It makes no sense.
Switch to a weather-sensitive controller right away and your irrigations will adjust to the weather, just like your thermostat does for air conditioning and heating inside your home.
3. Fix your irrigation system and cycle the applications
Test the efficiency and accuracy of your irrigations, it’s easy. A simple “can test” is easy to do and will provide incredibly useful information about where and how much water is being applied to your garden.
Next, a depth test will tell you how deep that water is moving into your soil. To do this, after an irrigation, push a piece of 3/8” rebar into the soil in a few places. It will slide in easily to the depth the water has penetrated, then stop. That is how far you are irrigating. Important to know.
Lastly, program your timer to “cycle” to three or so short waterings instead of one long one. Three five-minute cycles, with a one-hour rest period between, will deliver water much more deeply than one 15-minute cycle.
4. Convert to low-flow sprinkler inserts
Most sprinklers deliver water at about 1.5 to 2 inches per hour to your soil. If your sprinklers overlap, like they should, that 3 to 4 inches of water per hour. That is more than the heaviest downpour you have ever experienced. Moderate rainfall is about .10 to .30 inches of rain per hour. Heavy rain is about .3 inches per hour.
Soil simply cannot absorb water at the rate of most irrigation systems. In many cases this can be solved simply by unscrewing the top of your sprinkler and exchanging it with a state of the art low-flow insert. It is not much harder than unscrewing the cap on a water bottle and screwing on a different one.
Low-flow heads will deliver water about four times slower than other heads, allowing the water to absorb.
5. Hydrozone – Hydrozone - Hydrozone
Thirsty plants next to low-water plants in a landscape are a common scenario. Lavenders next to fragrant rose bushes, geraniums under olives, and lawns and shrubs intermixed. In each of these scenarios it is always the thirstiest plant in the group that dictates the water use in that area.
Simply placing plants with the same water needs together, in the same irrigation zone, will conserve large amounts of water. Put the geraniums with the roses, the lavenders under the olive and separate the lawn from the shrubs. You will still have the same plants, but the low water plants can now be irrigated correctly and will save you considerable water – and you will enjoy the exact same plants in your garden!