Spring is here, and it is a dry one. Remember that we are under a drought watch, which is no reason to panic, BUT it does mean we need to be much more careful with our water and aware of how efficiently we are using it in our yards.

This April, there are three easy activities you can do to help make sure your system is working more efficiently.

1. Double check your irrigation settings. Your plants are actively growing now. They need an extra drink of water to stay healthy, but it is important that we are not giving them too much. Your plants will do better with a deep watering done less frequently. Print out our Seasonal Watering Chart, which shows how often we recommend watering each type of plant. Water your lawn one to two times per week, your trees two times per month and your shrubs two to three times per month. 

Check with a screwdriver to make sure the water is reaching the roots but not going so deep that the roots can’t reach it. The proper depth is on the right side of our chart above.

2. Make sure that your trees and shrubs are watered around their drip line so they can efficiently use the water they are getting. This is where woody plants (trees and shrubs) are best able to take up water from the soil. If your emitters are at the trunk or base of your shrubs, your plants are not able to use all of the water you are giving them. You need to move the emitters out to the drip line, and you may need to add additional emitters. For example, if there are only two emitters serving a mature tree that needs over 400 gallons of water in April, it will be nearly impossible for that tree to get enough water to remain healthy without adding more emitters.

3. Because of the “stay at home” health order, many of us have been focusing on improving our yards. This is the perfect time to upgrade your irrigation system so you can water more efficiently.  You may only need to replace the nozzles on your sprinklers, or you may be looking at a complete yard transformation. By making changes sooner rather than later, you will benefit in three ways: You will save money sooner, probably have a better chance of getting into a contractor’s schedule if you need help and put less stress on your plants if the work is done in the cool spring weather rather than during the summer.

It’s also the perfect time to reach out to us for help. Send us an email at AskAnExpert@abcwua.org to ask landscape questions or to arrange an appointment for a free consultation.

Author: Richard Perce, Irrigation Efficiency Specialist with the Water Resources Division for the Water Authority.  Have a question about the article? AskAnExpert@abcwua.org