Save Money and Water in 2022

Spring is here. If you have an irrigation system for your yard, you're likely considering getting it up and running within the next month or two. System startup is the time when you're setting the watering duration and frequency for each zone in your yard. These settings often remain unchanged throughout the season, which typically results in overwatering. Overwatering wastes drinkable water, and assuming you don't have a private well, it also wastes money. 

This year, in addition to following city restrictions (e.g. odd/even watering schedules), try actively managing your irrigation controller. Active management consists of adjusting run times based on local conditions. For example, during periods with sufficient rainfall, watering duration and frequency can be reduced. During these times, you can simply turn your irrigation system off. In contrast, during periods of extreme heat and drought, supplemental watering may be necessary. Watch your yard for signs of drought before turning on your irrigation system, and rely on rainfall as much as possible. When you need to use your irrigation system, water your lawn one time or less per week with a good soaking to encourage deeper root growth, and schedule watering times in the morning to reduce evaporation associated with midday heat and wind.

An alternative to active management is a smart irrigation controller. Smart irrigation controllers use an internet connection to actively monitor local precipitation patterns and automatically adjust watering frequency and duration accordingly. Regardless of whether you choose active management or a smart irrigation controller, both are effective options for reducing water use and saving money.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension's Lawn Care website for additional lawn management resources. 

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Please Water Responsibly

This summer has been very dry. As a result, many cities around the metro have implemented watering bans or restrictions. Watering daily during drought conditions puts further strain on water supplies than the drought is already causing. Watering allowance during restrictions (e.g. odd or even days only) should be thought of as the MAXIMUM you should water, not the minimum. If your grass is green and lush, consider shutting your sprinklers down for a day or two. Selectively water areas of your yard that may be sunnier or drier where the grass browns more readily, but consider skipping areas that stay green longer. In times like these, it becomes even more important that we share our limited water resources responsibly.

Use these additional tips to conserve water this summer:

  1. Use sprinklers efficiently. Align sprinklers to avoid irrigating roads, sidewalks, and driveways. Install a rain sensor on automated irrigation systems.
  2. Water deeply and less frequently rather than daily. The only exception to this is when you start seeds which require moisture for germination. When plants are watered less frequently they grow deeper roots and become healthier plants.
  3. Water in the morning. Watering in the morning prevents water loss from evaporation and also prevents possible fungal problems if plants remain wet in the cooler night.
  4. Mulch your garden beds with wood chips, leaves and unsprayed straw. Mulching around the plants in your garden will help conserve soil moisture.
  5. Add organic matter. Adding a layer of compost to your beds every season will increase the water holding capacity of your soil.
  6. Install a rain barrel. Harvest water from rooftops during rainstorms and use that water to water gardens.
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