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Avoid Wasting Water in the Landscape

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Even when the state experiences a good rainfall, wise use of water in the landscape remains important. Anyone who has lived in Oklahoma for a while knows the heat will arrive and leave landscapes parched.


Keeping the landscape irrigated doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Just as people turn off lights when leaving a room or running the dishwasher only when the machine is full, this same principle is applicable to the landscape.


Many automated irrigation systems feature smart sensors that allow homeowners to adjust water schedules to meet different needs easily. Others automatically shut off when it rains. Inspect the system to ensure all of the sprinkler heads are working properly and are spraying water where intended. It’s wasteful when the water ends up on the driveway or on the street. Consider the amount of sun and shade exposure as that can determine water needs. Depending on your landscape, different zones in the irrigation system will almost always need different schedules.


Watering too often can be problematic, as well. Good horticultural practices call for wetting the root zones and letting the soil dry out. Watering too much and too often results in shallow root systems, weed growth, disease and fungus. 


Watering at the appropriate time of day can help conserve water in the landscape. When watering in the heat of the day, whether with an automated system or the traditional garden hose and sprinkler system, gardeners are losing up to 30% of the moisture to evaporation. Instead, water early in the morning or later in the evening. Gardeners can avoid water loss by watering close to sunrise or sunset when the winds are calmer.


Another tip for conserving water is to run an irrigation system on an abbreviated schedule. If an area requires 15 minutes of irrigation, run it for three 5-minute cycles. This allows for the water to absorb and creates less opportunity for runoff.


Remember, an automated watering system isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it system. It needs to be adjusted throughout the season to meet current weather conditions. Oklahoma weather is unpredictable, and we may experience scorching temperatures one week and have plentiful rain the next. Keep an eye on weather predictions from your local news or weather apps on your smartphone and adjust accordingly.

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