Smart irrigation practices benefit plants and budgets
Friday, July 23, 2021
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Using smart irrigation practices is as important as selecting the right plants when establishing and maintaining a landscape, according to Oklahoma State University Extension experts.
Josh Campbell, OSU Extension urban agriculture and natural resources educator in Oklahoma County, said July and August are when Oklahomans use the most water in the landscape.
“It’s important for homeowners to know how to irrigate their landscape efficiently and in a cost-effective manner so the plants can develop strong root systems,” Campbell said.
As the population continues to grow, some communities are putting heavy restrictions on water use. Some allow watering on specific days, and others also may be implementing new price structures to incentivize efficient water use. Homeowners could be allowed to use, for example, up to 10,000 gallons of water per month, but going over that amount will cost them more per gallon.
To help maximize water efficiency, Campbell said consumers need to select plants that are suited for Oklahoma’s environment. The initial period of establishing the plant to encourage root growth will require more water, but it will make the plant more sustainable for the future.
“From the homeowner’s perspective, they’ll get healthier plants that will require less water, and this can put money back in their pockets,” he said.
Although parts of Oklahoma experienced higher-than-normal rainfall this summer, even novice gardeners know they can’t count on rainfall as the sole source of plant irrigation. A properly designed, installed and maintained irrigation system will use water resources in a sustainable manner, especially when using smart irrigation technology.
Campbell said the cost of installing a landscape can be substantial, so it makes sense to invest in an irrigation system to help protect that investment.
“Your return on investment will be good,” he said. “Utilizing smart irrigation technology is a huge asset for homeowners and doesn’t cost much more than a regular system.”
A regular irrigation system works on a timer set to go off at predetermined times. Smarter technology has the advantage of using real-time weather information and smartphone app controls to reduce wasted water.
For example, a regular system might be set to go on at 10 a.m. every other morning during the heat of the summer. However, a surprise rainstorm could pop up while the homeowner is at work. With smart irrigation, automatic adjustments save many gallons of water while nature takes care of the watering chores.
Although there are several more weeks of hot weather, gardeners need to keep in mind that watering deeper and less frequently is better. Make sure the ground is saturated to the rootzone, which helps with evaporation. When the soil isn’t watered as deeply, it dries out quicker, which in turn requires more watering, leading to poorly established plants.
“A lush landscape is an asset to your home and making sure it gets the right amount of water when it needs it can easily be done with a good irrigation system,” Campbell said.
OSU Extension offers more lawn and gardening information online.