Wise Water Use Guidelines

In the summer, on an acreage or in town, it’s important to make every drop count.


  1. Learn to recognize wilting in turf plants. Symptoms are
    1. a bluish cast on the leaf blades and
    2. footprints left on the lawn after you walk through it.
    3. rolled up, not flat leaf blades


  1. Check the soil for adequate moisture content. Push a screwdriver into the soil, pull it out and feel the blade.  If it feels dry and powdery, moisture is needed, if mud clings to it, there is no need to water.  If it feels cool and moist, there is no need to water.

screwdriver moist not soggy



  1. Water to the bottom of the roots. For Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, roots are shorter in summer and longer in spring and fall.  Use a small shovel or trowel to check how far water has soaked in after watering.


  1. Avoid watering on windy days.


  1. Water in the early morning, 4-8 am.


  1. On slopes, use delayed starts. Run the sprinklers until you notice runoff, then stop and let the water soak in for a few hours, then restart the system.


  1. Aerate bluegrass and tall fescue lawns in spring or fall to increase the infiltration capacity.



  1. Return grass clippings to the lawn using a recycling type mower to conserve moisture.


  1. Mow Kentucky bluegrass lawns at 2 ½ inches and tall fescue lawns at 3 ½ inches to conserve moisture.


  1. Consider allowing Kentucky bluegrass, zoysia and buffalograss lawns go dormant in the summer. Irrigate dormant turf with light applications every 2-3 weeks to prevent death of the crowns.


  1. Check hose connections for leaks and repair them as needed.


  1. Measure the amount of water applied during a 30 minute period using collection devices such as empty tuna or cat food cans. Adjust the run time to deliver the required amount.  Change the run time seasonally and subtract any rainfall.




  1. Observe your automatic sprinkler system at least once a week. Look for heads that don’t turn or spray the street or driveway, bent or damaged heads and clogged or worn nozzles.  Make repairs as necessary.



  1. Adjust heads as landscape plants grow larger and begin to block the spray pattern. New installations of benches, decks, etc. can also decrease irrigation efficiency.


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