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Getting back into the wise-watering groove

As temperatures rise, use these tips to be water-savvy this summer.
Conservation specialist Jenelle Rhodes checks an irrigation clock during a water audit.

While the record-breaking rain hasn’t been ideal for pool time with the family this summer, it has been great for keeping our lawns green, gardens lush and water bills low. If you’re like me, you haven’t missed the chore of watering your lawn and garden.

As things warm up and dry out, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of watering our lawns wisely. Thankfully, our friends at Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado put together some great tips for getting back into the watering groove.

Take some time to inspect your sprinkler system to make sure everything is working properly. Use the ALCC checklist to find wasteful system failures and mechanical problems:

  • Look at the timer and make sure it is plugged in. Replace the battery so you have power back-up.
  • Make sure watering times are correct for the types of sprinklers in any given area. Rotor heads — that throw a stream of water back and forth — should run no more than 20 minutes per watering cycle. Pop-up heads that spray continuously over one area should not run more than 8-10 minutes per cycle.
  • Turn on the system to make sure sprinklers are pointed into the yard, not the street.
  • Replace any missing heads or nozzles; check for clogged heads and clean them out.
  • Notice how high sprinklers pop up above the lawn. Thatch build-up over time can mean the heads no longer rise above the height of the lawn. The grass will deflect the water and keep it from spraying the full distance it needs to spray. Mark those sprinkler heads that need to be raised and schedule the work.
Denver Water offers rebates for qualifying high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles, like this rotary nozzle.

ALCC also recommends taking some of the money saved from your lower water bills and investing it into making your sprinkler system smarter and more efficient. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Replace old nozzles: Denver Water offers a rebate up to $3 per sprinkler-head nozzle when you upgrade to qualifying high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles.
  • Install a Smart Controller: Denver Water also offers a rebate up to $75 for WaterSense-labeled smart sprinkler system controllers, which act like a thermostat for your sprinkler system by telling it when to turn on and off.

And, did you know that those brown spots in your yard may not mean that your grass is dead? Learn more about Ascochyta, a fungus that has shown up this season causing straw-colored patches and streaks that may grow into large areas of brown grass.

July is Smart Irrigation Month — a good reminder that smart irrigation practices contribute to managing whatever Mother Nature hands us.

Deluge or drought, you can’t make this stuff, so please use only what you need.