1. Don’t overwater. Established lawns and landscapes require only an inch of water each week to stay healthy in Gwinnett’s temperate climate. In fact, root rot due to overwatering kills more plants than drought. It is better to deliver the prescribed inch of water over the course of one to two sessions per week rather than watering a little every day. Watering deeply but infrequently will encourage plants to establish deeper root systems as they grow towards the moist soil down below, making them more drought tolerant.
2. Use a rain gauge. To monitor how much water your yard has received naturally from rainfall, set up a rain gauge around your home. Once you know how much rain your yard received during the week, just make up the difference with your sprinklers to achieve one inch total. To see how long it takes your sprinklers to deliver one inch of water, place empty tuna cans around your yard. Mark the empty cans at the one-inch level, run your sprinklers as you normally would, and time how long it takes to reach the marks.
3. Beat the heat. To get the most benefit from every drop, water in the early morning before sunrise. Watering when temperatures are low helps reduce water loss from evaporation and improves soil absorption so water and nutrients get to plant roots where it’s needed. During the day, heat, sun, and wind can cause up to 50 percent of the water applied to evaporate before it is absorbed.
4. Timing is everything. If you like to sleep in, set your irrigation system timer or purchase an inexpensive hose timer if you set up sprinklers manually. Also don’t forget to turn your timer off and skip the next watering session if your yard has received enough rain to soak the soil. If you have an irrigation system that uses an automatic timer, add a rain sensor. It will keep the sprinklers from operating while it’s raining. Some “smart” irrigation timers can even monitor soil moisture levels, keep track of temperature, humidity, and rainfall amounts, and adjust the watering cycles automatically.
5. Slow it down. When sprinklers spray faster than your lawn can absorb, precious water is wasted. If you notice runoff on the driveway or street when you irrigate, switch to multiple shorter watering sessions on your chosen day, taking 45-minute breaks between sessions. That will give plants time to absorb the water they need without letting any go to waste. Using a drip irrigation system or soaker hose is another great option. By delivering water slowly, right to the base of plants where it’s needed, very little water will be lost to evaporation.