June, July and August are the hottest months for Albuquerque. Our current drought intensifies the heat stress of plants even more because there is lower soil moisture content and higher than normal ET from plants (plants losing more water due to EvapoTranspiration). Regional plants have evolved to adapt to this type of stress, but they still need water. Don’t go overboard! Plants growing in soil that is too wet can be negatively affected, leading to the death of roots. Stunted slow growth and yellowing leaves could be a symptom of overwatering.

Follow these tips to assure your plant’s success and conserve water. 

Tips for Watering Your Plants Using a Hose and Nozzle: 

  • Make sure your nozzle or watering wand has an on/off switch that does not leak.  This allows you to completely turn off the water at the hose end when you are not using it.
  • Make sure the wand or nozzle is set to “shower” or a setting that imitates rainfall.
  • To make sure you don’t have too much pressure, grab a five-gallon bucket and adjust your hose pressure with the nozzle or wand attached. Fill it up ¾ of the way in one minute. Set a timer (timers and stopwatches on your phone are great for this) so you know how long that minute is.  
  • Once you know the correct pressure, we recommend writing down how many turns of the handle you did and use that as your reference. Or, using fingernail polish, put a dot on your faucet handle that also lines up with a dot on the faucet stem so you have a visual reminder.
  • If you are watering just a few plants located near each other, you will want to build a well around the plants. This makes sure the water stays where you want it to be most effective and avoids water waste.   
  • Wetting plant leaves or the trunk base of a tree is not an efficient way to water and may damage the health of some plants. Instead, water around the plant, aiming at the root growing area. 

If you are ready to invest in a more efficient irrigation system instead of dragging your hose around the yard, a Water Sense Smart hose timer is the way to go.

A Smart timer system connected to a professional landscape dripline can water your yard at a set time and for a set length of time. Hose timers can accommodate many several hoses and zones (usually from one to four). We offer a rebate on a Water Sense Smart Irrigation Controllers hose timer that adjusts to our weather and your plant’s watering needs. Each valve can be set to water at various times throughout the day. For example, you could set one valve to water your vegetable garden for 10 minutes daily and another valve to water your perennials two times a week for 20 minutes.

Drip Irrigation Tips:

  • Make sure you always have a pressure regulator on your drip line. Even if you are converting an old turf valve into a drip zone, use an in-line pressure regulator.
  • Using professional in-line emitted drip tubing around trees and shrubs is often the most efficient way to provide your trees with enough water.
  • Make sure you have more than one emitter per plant. That way, if an emitter clogs, you have less chance of that plant dying from lack of water.
  • “Walk the Line” at least once a month, looking and listening for any broken drip. You are listening for the sound of rushing water and looking for little fountains, excessive wet areas or wilted plants.
  • Make sure you know approximately where your polyline runs so it is easier for you to know where to plant and make repairs.
  • Make sure drip irrigation gets moved out to the edge of a shrub or tree canopy and increase the number of emitters as your plants get larger. This is especially important on trees and medium and high-water shrubs.
  • Your Desert Accent plants, and Rainwater-Only plants may not need supplemental drip irrigation after the third year, so plugging the emitters will help you save water.
  • Follow our monthly and seasonal maintenance checklist to ensure that you check the filters on your system.
Author: Richard Perce, Irrigation Efficiency Specialist with the Water Conservation Department for the Water Authority.  Have a question about the article? AskAnExpert@abcwua.org