The Q&A Archives: Auto sprinkler use

Question: How much water should my lawn need? I have an automatic sprinkler system with 9 stations. The local weather has been in the high 90's with 2 and 1/2 inches of rain the the last 30 days (which is very high for this time of year). My last water bill for the yard 89,000 gallons for 30 dyas. This seems very high to me. We moved in last October so this is the firs summer in the house. Please help!

Answer: Depending upon how much lawn you have, 89,000 gallons of water for a month may or may not be excessive. Most lawns need about one inch of water per week, applied slowly so it has a chance to penetrate the soil to a depth of 6-8". In the summer, that will probably equate to one or two 15-20 minute sessions with the sprinklers every week. You can check to see how much water your sprinklers put out by placing several empty tuna or catfood cans on the lawn and running the system for 15 minutes. Check the level of water in the cans. If it equals one-inch, then you'll only need to run your sprinklers for 15 minutes; if it is more or less than one-inch, adjust the number of minutes you run your sprinklers so that the output is one-inch

Watering properly will help your lawn grow deep roots that make it stronger and less vulnerable to drought. Most lawns are watered too often but with too little water. It's best to water only when the lawn really needs it, and then to water slowly and deeply. This trains the grass roots down. Frequent shallow watering trains the roots to stay near the surface, making the lawn less able to find moisture during dry periods.

Every lawn's watering needs are unique: they depend on local rainfall, the grass and soil type, and the general health of the lawn. But even in very dry areas, no established home lawn requires watering daily.

Try to water your lawn in a way that imitates a slow, soaking rain. To prevent excessive runoff, you might want to run the system for 15 minutes, wait 30 minutes for the water to soak into the soil, then run the system again for 15 minutes. It's also best to water in the early morning, especially during hot summer months, to reduce evaporation. Apply about an inch of water - enough that it soaks 6-8 inches into the soil. Then let the lawn dry out thoroughly before watering it again.

Hope this information helps you conserve water and still have a lush, green lawn.


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