Magazine article USA TODAY

Water Wisely during a Drouqht

Magazine article USA TODAY

Water Wisely during a Drouqht

Article excerpt

With various areas of the nation suffering from drought recently, responsible use of water on landscapes is a must. Landscape experts with Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Ft. Collins, and the Green Industries of Colorado suggest following basic conservation principles that will maximize water supply and encourage healthy, hardy, and drought-resistant landscapes. Watering hints include:

* Lawns and planting beds should be watered according to their needs based on soil moisture levels. To check soil moisture, insert a six-inch screwdriver into the soil. If it goes in easily, the ground doesn't need water.

* Water at night, between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. Set sprinklers to hit only landscapes, not sidewalks, driveways, windows, etc.

* Skip watering on days following one-half inch or more of rain. On cool, cloudy days, plants use less water and there is less evaporation, which increases the time between watering.

* Check sprinkler systems to see how long each zone is scheduled to run and adjust the timer accordingly. A shade zone will require less water than a hot, sunny area, and the cooler seasons require less water than hot summer months. Check sprinkler heads frequently to make sure they are functioning properly.

* Use household timers as a reminder to move or stop soaker hoses and sprinklers. Check the amount of water that sprinklers put out by placing a shallow container in the yard to measure it. This will help determine how long a landscape should be watered to apply an amount recommended by local utility services or homeowners associations.

* Establishing new plants will initially require more moisture, but watering cycles should be adjusted to maintenance levels after landscapes are established. Mulching conserves moisture and can make a difference. In general, trees are established two to three years after they are planted; most flowers, two to three weeks; herbaceous perennials up to eight weeks; fresh sod in three weeks; and seeded grass after five weeks.

Tips for watering grass

* Aeration is an important part of healthy lawn maintenance because it allows better water, air, and fertilizer penetration by relieving soil compaction, thus preventing runoff and improving the health of plants. …

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