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Watering Guidelines Newsletter


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How often should you be watering now? I don't know - it depends on your location, the soil, plant types, organic or synthetic program, etc. Hopefully you are organic and thus have lower water needs.


What I do know is this - turn the irrigation control off automatic and on to manual. That way it won't come on unless you push the button. You'll save lots of water, the soil will be healthier and your landscaping will look better. OK – while you are on vacation, maybe automatic is acceptable. But even then a neighbor could push the button if needed.


Provide deep, infrequent watering so that the soil pulses or breathes. About 1" of water per week in the summer is a good starting point. Then adjust from there. Light, frequent watering of grass and other plants produces a weak, shallow root system. Shallow, weak root systems encourage weed invasion and do not effectively use soil nutrients and moisture.


General Instructions for Water Saving

  • Plant adapted plants - natives are best.
  • Use compost, earthworm castings, organic fertilizer, and dry molasses.
  • Avoid synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemical pesticides.
  • Add volcanic rock minerals - i.e. lava sand, zeolite, basalt, etc.
  • Mulch all bare soil with native shredded tree trimmings.
  • Water at night - 12:00am-4:00am. No - that doesn’t encourage disease - it rains at night.
  • Be careful of drip irrigation. Water has a habit of seeking the path of least resistance. The result can be wet spots and dry spots.


Ideally, it is best to water any turf just before it begins to wilt. Early morning is usually the best time of day - late afternoon is the worst. Morning is cooler, and is when wind is lowest so there will be less waste through evaporation, and water will be in place for the heat of the day. The most important way to save water? Go organic and save 40 - 50%.


If you have any questions about this newsletter or any other topic, join me on Sunday 8am - 11am Central Time for my Dirt Doctor Radio Show.


Naturally yours,


Howard Garrett



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Originally published in 2011
Map hosted by the U of Nebraska-Lincoln, in cooperation with USDA, NOAA, DOC,
Conagua Comision Nacional de Agua, 
Agriculture & Agra-Food Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada





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