AMWUA Blog

Jun 01 2020Share

Text Alert Takes Guess Work Out of Watering

By AMWUA Staff

As the weather warms up, many of us will look around our yards and wonder if our plants and trees are feeling the heat and require more water, or if we can simply trust that our automated irrigation timer will take care of it.

Before you make any watering decisions or changes, it’s important to note that watering needs for your plants do vary from season to season and even from month to month. So regularly adjusting your irrigation schedule on your timer is essential. It is also an easy way to save water and money while ensuring your plants get the right amount of water they need to thrive.

Yes, an automated irrigation system waters your yard without you having to think about it. Still, that frequency should be adjusted at least four times a year to account for differences in seasonal watering needs, such as during the desert heat. When you forget to change an irrigation system, it often means you are overwatering grass, plants, and trees. In addition to being a waste of water, overwatering can mean soggy soil that can prevent trees and plants from pulling in essential elements from the soil, such as nitrogen and iron, and suffocate the roots. 

To better assist homeowners with this issue, the water conservation specialists from the AMWUA cities worked together to deliver a solution. Simply text WHENTOWATER to 33222 and receive a text message on the first of each month with a link to that month’s unique watering guide. This guide reminds you to change your settings as the weather changes and gives you precise watering instructions for all your plants. This easily accessible information can help you keep your yard looking its best. Plus, this is one more way to help you save water—and money. 

6 June Watering ReminderThe AMWUA Regional Conservation Program officially launched the watering reminder text alerts in May 2018. Those alerts link you to a smart chart that shows you how often to water everything in your yard, including grass, cacti, and annuals. The chart also includes watering instructions when plants with different watering needs, such as trees and shrubs, are on the same valve. The City of Mesa developed the watering guideline charts from the accessible guide, Landscape Watering by the Numbers.

There are two steps to help you get the most value from the WHENTOWATER text alerts: 

  1. Water desert landscapes infrequently but deeply to retain water in the soil and prevent evaporation. So make sure you water to a depth of three feet for trees, two feet for shrubs, one foot for smaller plants, and a half foot for grass. (You can measure the depth of your watering with something as simple as a wooden stick with a pointed end.)
  2. Learn how to adjust the run times on your automated irrigation controller so you can quickly match run times to your WHENTOWATER text alert. Watch the manufacturer’s how-to video designed for your controller. Typical controllers are not tricky, but they can be confusing at first. People often set their controllers once and forget about it or leave it up to a landscaper, who may or may not care about the amount of outdoor water you use. 

Outdoor water use can drive your water bill, so that’s where you can best save water and save money. Your city’s water conservation website offers more information that will help you save water outdoors and keep your landscape thriving despite the temperatures.


For over 50 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe, and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information, visit www.amwua.org, and don’t forget to text WHENTOWATER to 33222 to receive monthly watering guidelines.

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