A Simple Tool to Help You Be More Water-Wise
Water is a precious resource – and will likely be very scarce along the Front Range this summer. KUNC gardener Tom Throgmorton says being educated is the first step in saving water – and that education starts with one simple tool...
Some places along the Front Range are five inches below normal for precipitation for the year. Reservoirs are full from last year but almost no water went into them this spring. That storage water could get used quickly during a hot, dry summer.
I would think the fastest-moving items at hardware stores right now are rain gauges. You can’t know how much water you’re using or saving unless you can measure it.
Any straight-sided container measures how much water is going on the lawn or garden. Set the container, whether rain gauge or a refried bean can, in the yard. Water normally. Then measure what’s in the container. You may be surprised how much water you’re using.
Once you know how much water your sprinkler puts out you can water more wisely. Water in the cool of evening to early morning so more water is absorbed and doesn’t evaporate. Adjust sprinkler systems for even coverage. Water so the moisture goes down six inches into the root zone. A clay soil may need one inch of water once a week. Sandy soils may need a half-inch of moisture three times a week.
An emerald green, thriving bluegrass lawn (which most of us have) needs about two inches of moisture every week. We may not have two inches of water to put on lawns every week... especially if we don’t start saving water this year.
Bluegrass is a cool season grass. It thrives in forty-degree nights and seventy-degree days. When the weather gets hot, bluegrass naturally goes dormant, unless it’s getting a lot of water.
It’s time for us to let our lawns go dormant. Or at least let the grass get to the edge of drought stress when it looks gray and shows footprints before watering. It’s time for us to get smarter about the ways we use water.
Water is a precious resource. We need to educate ourselves to use and save water skillfully. We need to learn about our soils, our watering systems and the plants in our gardens. The education starts with a rain gauge.
Fun fact: Rain gauges for your lawn don’t need to be as sophisticated as the systems cities like Fort Collins use.