Conserve water in landscaping

Published: Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 02:44 PM.

If possible, schedule your irrigation system to run in the early morning.  Avoid watering mid-day to eliminate excessive evaporation. An irrigation audit should be done every year to check your irrigation equipment. At least once a season, manually turn the system on and observe it running to check for problems.  Check drip systems to ensure emitters are working and clean out filters as needed.  Over time, drip emitter locations may need to be shifted to the outer edge of the plant root balls as your plants grow.  Adjust spray sprinklers to prevent overspray and runoff onto roads, sidewalks and driveways.

Since growth occurs at optimum rates in a normally watered plant, some stress may reduce growth which is not critical for many plants reaching their mature size. Your goal may be to simply keep plants alive, but not thriving. However, on a young, newly planted tree or in situations where you want a fuller landscape, greater watering will support greater growth.

Lawn care

Management practices in the fall and spring determine the drought tolerance of the lawn in the summer. To reduce the need for irrigation, your lawn management program should maximize root volume and depth in preparation for summer drought.  By the time summer arrives, you can do little to help a lawn except mow and irrigate properly.  Avoid the temptation to irrigate in spring just to get grass growing.  Allow it to naturally green up.  In the spring, allow the soil to dry slightly and the grass to wilt some to encourage a deeper and more-hardy root system to develop.  Such a root system will be necessary to reduce the need for summer irrigation and to survive drought conditions.

Learn more

To learn more about conserving water in your landscape, visit If you have questions about gardening, visit where you can submit questions via the ‘Ask an Expert’ link, or contact your local Cooperative Extension center: If you live in Pender County, call 910-259-1238; in New Hanover County, call 910-798-7660; in Brunswick County call 910-253-2610.


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