Dial It Down for Fall

By Conservation Garden Park

Utahns waste more water in the fall than during any other time of year—not because we use more water, but because we keep using the same amount our landscapes needed during the hottest time of the year. With lower temperatures, fewer hours of sunlight, and more precipitation, it is important to adjust watering schedules to match the actual needs of your lawn.

Fall is when your lawn begins its process of preparing for winter dormancy. In simple terms, your lawn uses less water, slows its growth, focuses resources on its roots, and stores up energy to survive the cold months ahead. Overwatering during this period can invite fungal diseases to invade your lawn and can impact your lawn’s root growth. While adequate watering is an important part of maintaining a healthy yard, overwatered lawns are far more common in Utah than underwatered lawns. In fact, most Utahns overwater their yards by nearly 20 percent.

Depending on weather, Utahns can usually cut down watering to once every five days in early September and should be able to stop watering altogether by Columbus Day. But most of us don’t do that. According to a study conducted by the Utah Division of Water Resources, Utahns tend to operate sprinkler systems on a “set it and forget it” mode, meaning we set our timers to a frequency that makes sense in July and then don’t mess with them again until it is time to winterize. While this method may work for the hot summer months, as cooler weather arrives, our landscapes get far more water than they need, and in some cases more than they can handle. Too much water can harm a landscape as much as too little.

So, how do you know if your landscape needs more water or if it is time to dial it down? Here are a few of our staff’s recommendations:

  1. Use the screwdriver test: push a screwdriver into the soil. If it goes into the soil easily, the soil is moist and you don’t need to water.
  2. Get a smart controller: WaterSense-labeled smart controllers use local weather and landscape conditions to apply water only when needed, and rebates for these controllers are available throughout the state. Visit slowtheflow.org to see what rebates are available in your area.
  3. Consult the State’s Watering Guide: The Utah Division of Water Resources publishes a weekly lawn watering guide with recommendations based on current weather conditions in your county. Visit slowtheflow.org each week to view the updated guide.

Fall doesn’t have to be a season for water waste. By dialing down your sprinkler system to match the season, you can create a yard that is both healthy and efficient.

To learn more about landscaping for Utah’s seasons, visit Conservation Garden Park in West Jordan (8275 South 1300 West, West Jordan, Utah 84088). Or visit the Garden’s website at www.conservationgardenpark.org.