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Water Use on Landscapes
“When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.” ~Chinese proverb

Outdoor water use ranges from 30 to 90% of our daily water use nationwide, with peak water use occurring during the summer. Here in the Southwest where climates are hotter and drier, outdoor water use ranges from 50 to 70% of our daily water use. Of course here in the Bear Valley, we don't water in the winter months (typically November through April) due to freezing temperatures, dormancy of landscape plants and turf, and winter precipitation. 

Because our summer months are so dry and hot, evaporation rates are very high. This is why it is best to water in the in the early morning, after sunset, or during the night. If you water mid-day, most of the water will evaporate, wasting water. The plants receive limited benefit since the water won't have a chance to soak into the ground and reach the roots. That is why we have time of day watering restrictions, along with alternate day scheduling for outdoor watering.

Ever hear the saying "less is more?" That is definitely true for outdoor watering. Most people think that more water is better, so the tendency is to over-water...by A LOT! It is best to water in a series of short cycles. Since we live in a semi-arid climate, our soil tends to be compact and hard. It takes a while for water to percolate (soak) into the ground and reach plant roots. If you water for 30 minutes straight, for the first 10 minutes water will soak into the ground but the rest of the water will runoff. That's 20 minutes and hundreds of gallons of water wasted!  Instead, try the cycle and soak method. Water for three 4-minute cycles with a 1-hour soak period in between. With this method of watering, water will have time to soak into the ground reaching the plants' roots and minimizing water waste. 

Did you know that all plants do not require the same amount of water or watering schedule? For example, turf grass may need to be watered 2-3 times per week and native plants may need to be watered once a month or not at all. For assistance in determining a watering schedule for your landscape, you can request a free outdoor irrigation survey. Our conservation staff can calculate the amount and frequency of water needed on your landscape and help to reduce your water bill!