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Tips from WRASBC: Ways to Conserve Water Outdoors

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This page content is sponsored by the WRA of San Benito County

Did you know that landscape irrigation accounts for almost half of residential water use in San Benito County?

Use a licensed irrigation contractor when installing a landscape irrigation system. The layout and spacing of the sprinkler heads determines the system's uniformity of application and overall efficiency. With a well-designed system, you will use less water and have fewer brown spots on your lawn.

Limit turf areas. A lawn requires more irrigation than almost any other landscape feature. Limit its size to just what you need. Consider replacing at least part of your lawn with a deck, paving, or lower water-use plants. Avoid narrow strips of lawn (along sidewalks, for example) because they cannot be irrigated efficiently. And consider using drip or micro-spray for borders and non-turf areas. There are many books at the the Hollister and San Juan Bautista libraries on this and related subjects.

Change your irrigation timer with the seasons. Did you know that your landscaping needs different amounts of water during spring, summer, and fall? For example, in April, your landscaping will only need about half the water it uses in July. And many types of landscaping require no irrigation during the winter months. A free residential water survey can help you set up a seasonal watering schedule.

Practice Smart Watering. Knowing when and how long to water can save you thousands of gallons per year. How do I know when my landscaping needs water? Grass needs to be watered when footprints remain after someone walks on it. Watering in the early morning is best because less is lost to evaporation. In the summer, grass should be watered 2-3 times per week. Shrubs, on the other hand, do well when watered once a week, or less. Large shrubs and trees prefer deep, infrequent watering. 

How much Water? When a landscape needs water, enough should be applied to wet the soil as deep as the plants roots extend. For grass, this is about 6 inches below the surface. The type of soil has a great deal to do with how much water is needed. Soil types in San Benito County tend to be clay. Because clay soils absorb water slowly, the rate of flow coming out of the sprinkler should be as low as possible, so that water is absorbed and does not pool or become lost as runoff. If you see water running onto the sidewalk, into the gutter, or pooling in low areas, runoff is occurring. If runoff is still a problem after the rate of flow has been adjusted, consider watering for shorter periods of time.

Use mulch. To reduce weeds, slow erosion, and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, apply a 2-4 inch layer of mulch or compost over soil around plants.


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