Wait to Water

Cynthia Bee, Conservation Garden Park

It’s getting warm out there, and the warmer temperatures have prompted some homeowners to turn on their irrigation systems already. What a temptation! It’s an easy one to fall prey to, but waiting to turn on your sprinklers until late spring is one of the best things you can do to have a lawn that is healthy and strong.

On average, 65 percent of the drinking water available in Utah is used to water lawns. To put that in perspective, a water treatment plant that treats 30 million gallons of water per day in the dead of winter will treat up to a staggering 180 million gallons of water per day in the peak of summer—the difference? Landscape irrigation.

If we begin to use these additional millions of gallons too early, we draw down our supply and risk shortages later in the season. As we’re already behind the annual snowpack average and have been for several years in a row, we need to conserve our supply as much as possible. However, waiting to water doesn’t simply safeguard our drinking water supply, it also saves you money, lowers maintenance and helps your landscape become more resilient. Here’s how:

Saves Money. Right now, lawns are dormant and not actively growing. Therefore, they do not require additional water. Putting water on the lawn now will encourage it to break dormancy and green up early—requiring more water for the entire season. Adding additional months of higher water bills is an unnecessary expense.

Lowers Maintenance. A dormant lawn does not require edging and mowing, and weeds in your lawn will also grow more slowly if they aren’t watered. Why begin the process of mowing, edging and fertilizing sooner than needed? Save yourself the additional work (and water!) by waiting until late spring. Even if the lawn breaks dormancy because of the warmer temperatures, soil moisture levels are still fairly high providing the lawn with the water it needs early in the season.

Builds Resilience. The best reason to wait to water is that it will improve the health and resiliency of your lawn for the entire season. When water is less frequent, the lawn roots are forced to grow down to where the water is naturally located, deep in the soil. Longer, stronger roots means stronger grass—which can outcompete weeds, recover more easily from damage, and resist disease.

What do we mean by “late spring”? Mother’s Day is a great rule of thumb, as illustrated in our handy chart. Following this chart may not be exactly what your lawn needs, but it’s a great start. Try the three tests also shown in the graphics, and you’ll know exactly when your lawn needs to be watered.

Perhaps we’ll have an extra wet July and August this year. Hey, it happens. However, July and August are typically our hottest and driest months. By waiting to water in the spring, you’re “buying” a lawn quality insurance policy that will give your landscape the best possible odds for season-long beauty.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]