1. Use two simple tools to help you water more efficiently.
- Put a rain gauge in your yard. If it rains 1/2 inch or more at one time, skip the next irrigation.
- Use a soil probe to determine whether or not irrigation water is reaching the entire root zone. The soil probe will move easily through moist soil and will stop or become very difficult to move when you reach dry soil. A long screwdriver or a piece of rebar with one end sharpened can be used instead.
2. Microclimates are landscape situations where the conditions are different from those in other parts of your yard. Different microclimates exist in nearly every yard and can be created by differing soil types, exposure to sun and wind, and reflective surfaces like walls and driveways. Water requirements of plants can be affected by microclimates. You may find that some trees and shrubs need more water than others. In these areas, it may be necessary to supplement regular irrigations with some hand watering. Soaker hoses or a garden hose and diffuser are especially good tools to use in these instances.
3. To minimize evaporation, water turf very early in the day (ideally between 1:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. during the warmer months).
4. In general, it's time to water when the top one-half to one-third of the soil around a plant dries out. Water moves more quickly through sandy soils than it does through the clay loam soils that are most common in our area. If your plants are in sandy soil conditions, you may need to water them more often with shorter irrigation times.
5. Between six months and one year after planting, move drip emitters farther away from plants to encourage a well-developed root system.