We spend a lot of time talking about how often and how much we should water our gardens. But another aspect of irrigation is knowing when to reduce your water use! This is particularly important right now, since we’re experiencing such a drought in California. We all want to keep our landscaping healthy, but we also must be mindful of our own water usage.
Generally speaking, you should reduce irrigation in response to your plants’ reduced need for water. They will need more water during the hottest part of the summer, but toward the end of summer you can begin gradually reducing your irrigation. Look for these signs that fall is approaching and your plants need less water:
- less hours of sunlight per day
- cooler temperatures
- less intense (direct) sunlight as the angle of the sun changes
If you water your landscaping via sprinklers on a timer, simply adjust your timers to deliver water for a shorter duration. Beginning in late summer and throughout fall, reduce watering time by a few minutes each week.
Keep in mind that the ideal way to conserve water is to convert to a drip irrigation system. Sprinklers are only about 45-55 percent efficient, with a lot of water lost to runoff and evaporation. By contrast, drip irrigation is 90-95 percent efficient, because the water is delivered at the plants’ roots. You will still reduce drip irrigation in late summer, but the system will use less water throughout the year.
If you want to go high-tech, a smart controller can make all of the big decisions for you. Simply input your soil and plant type, as well as your location and other information, and the controller will calculate your plants’ needs based on weather and other conditions. The water is automatically delivered to your landscaping, without you having to do much work at all!