Sometimes landscape irrigation gets a bad rap when it comes to water conservation. Turfgrass is the real water consumer not trees, shrubs and other plant materials. Those of you that read my “rant” (as it was called by some) in a previous blog post know that landscape beds use much less water than turfgrass. In that post I suggested that mandatory water use restrictions should make a distinction between these 2 categories and not lump beds and turfgrass together.
The general consensus is that landscapes and landscape irrigation systems waste water. Truth be told, neither of these statements are accurate. PEOPLE waste water not plants or irrigation systems. In fact, a well designed, maintained and operated irrigation system can be an extremely efficient/effective means of applying water to the landscape. There’s the problem… some people don’t take the operation of their irrigation system seriously and nothing screams WASTE louder than a river of irrigation water running down the storm sewer.
On occasion – I’ve asked folks why they have so much water running down the street. Here, to the best of my recollection, are the most common responses.
- I forgot to turn it off.
- I set the timer last year. Or was it the year before? And haven’t adjusted it “yet.”
- The irrigation system goes off at night so I don’t ever see it run.
- I can’t figure out how to program the controller.
- I don’t know how to adjust the heads.
- It leaks there.
- We’re not here all the time so we can’t make adjustments to the controller on a regular basis.
- My yard guy ran over some of the heads with the lawn mower and we haven’t fixed them yet.
(BTW – later found out “he” was the yard guy)
- If I don’t let the water spray out in to the street I can’t get the edges of the lawn.
- And my favorite – I didn’t know we had an irrigation system.
As the water supply gets tighter it may be necessary to implement a new strategy for turfgrass management. Here are the recommended guidelines. A gray discoloration and wilting are signs of water stress. Once turfgrass displays these signs you have 24 to 48 hours to water before serious injury occurs. When watering, apply 1 inch of water to the lawn as rapidly as possible without runoff. Watering on an as-need basis (not a timer) and watering thoroughly is the most effective way to save water and $$$ while maintaining a healthy looking lawn.
For the next few weeks, landscape water conservation will be the focus of GalvestonGardening.com. Visit our website for additional suggestions on how to preserve, conserve and protect.