Watering Tips: Protecting your lawn and curbing unnecessary usage

In the South, it can be challenging to navigate the hassles of lawn care in an unpredictable climate, particularly when hot weather can begin early in the spring and last well past the beginning of fall.

We encourage all of our customers to consider the amount of water it takes to protect your lawns and gardens from hot temperatures and drought conditions.

Did you know that every inch of standing water that collects on an acre of land can equal more than 27,000 gallons?

According to our friends at Denver Water, one of the best ways to use water efficiently on your yard is to cycle and soak. Watering in increments gives soil time to soak up the necessary water and allow water to travel further into the soil where the grass roots are, creating a healthier lawn.

Using the scheduling features on an irrigation controller, add multiple start times and reduce each zone’s watering time. Allow for up to an hour between start times to allow for the last cycle of irrigation to soak into the soil.

Water, rest, water.

For example, a 14-minute run time may be irrigated for seven minutes, turned off while the controller advances to irrigate another zone, then irrigated for the remaining seven minutes to achieve the total 14-minute run time.

Learn more about the cycle-and-soak method from the Colorado State University Extension.

Other tips:

  • Use your irrigation system wisely. For an in-ground, automatic sprinkler system, set the time clock to "off" and manually turn the system "on" when the lawn needs water. The automatic position on the time clock is useful when you are away for more than a few days. Even then, the clock can be made to operate more efficiently by installing a rain shut-off device that overrides the system when it rains. For more information, visit Clemson Extension.

  • How much water does your lawn need? Most lawns need one-half to one inch per acre. For an easy method to determine how long that is for most lawns, visit Clemson Extension.

  • Do you irrigate your lawn? You can save sewer charges on water used for outdoor uses like lawn and garden watering, and pools by installing an irrigation meter. Customers may contact our New Connections Department for current fees associated with this installation. For more information, go to http://www.spartanburgwater.org/manage-water-service.

  • Many homeowners irrigate for a given number of minutes without knowing how much water they are really applying. Save water and money by learning how to calibrate automatic sprinklers. Go to http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/landscape/lawns/hgic1207.html.

  • You don’t have to water the entire lawn. Consider watering only those areas that need water. To look for “signs of thirst” go to http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/landscape/lawns/hgic1207.html.

  • Micro–irrigation or drip systems are generally more efficient than conventional sprinklers, because they deliver low volumes of water directly to plants' roots, minimizing losses to wind, runoff, evaporation, or overspray. For more information, go to https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/tech.html.

  • Drip irrigation systems use 20-50 percent less water than conventional pop-up sprinkler systems and can save up to 30,000 gallons per year. Consider installing drip around trees, shrubs, and gardens in place of a conventional sprinkler system.  For more information, go to https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/tech.html.

  • Rainfall shutoff devices turn off your system in rainy weather and help compensate for natural rainfall. This inexpensive device can be retrofitted to almost any system. For more information, go to https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/tech.html.

  • Use the catch-can test to make sure your lawn is using only what it needs.
    • Set four identical cans at various distances from the sprinklers within the spray pattern of the sprinkler zone. Write down the location of each can and turn on the sprinkler zone for 15 minutes.
    • After 15 minutes, turn off the zone and measure the water level in each can with a ruler. Write down the amount of water inside each can. Differences in the amount of water in each can will tell you what areas within each zone need more or less water.
    • Move or adjust the sprinkler nozzle to make each zone more efficient.
    • Pour all the water into one can, which equals the amount of water your sprinkler system delivers in one hour.
    • Based on this number (inches per hour), you can determine how long the sprinkler must run to provide your lawn with the amount of water it needs. For example, in June, a typical Kentucky bluegrass lawn needs about 1.5 inches of water a week, which means you should water your lawn about a half inch three times a week. Smaller watering cycles are better than large, so do not water your lawn the full weekly amount in one day. Follow these guidelines:
    • May – 1.2 inches per week

    • June – 1.5 inches per week

    • July – 1.5 inches per week

    • Aug – 1.2 inches per week

    • Sept. – 1 inch per week






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