With sunny skies returning to California, and temperatures in the 80’s, it is time to turn the sprinklers on. Here are a few tips:
1- Check the settings on your controller- It have been a while since they were adjusted. Drip stations should generally have 20 minutes – 1 hour of scheduled watering time a week, divided in 2-4 weekly waterings. This of course depends on the location, solar exposure, plant types, and type of irrigation system that was installed. Once the thermostat starts to climb into the 90’s, increase the frequency and reduce the duration of watering. Soft stemmed plants or plants in pots may even need two waterings to keep from wilting in high temperatures.
Lawns should receive 30 minutes to an hour per week, again depending on conditions and temperature. More frequent waterings 4-6 times per week are typically required in the warm season.
2- Check your sprinklers: Run through the stations of your controller to check for problems. For lawns, check head coverage and distribution. Heads may have rotated out of alignment, or nozzles may have become clogged. For drip systems, turn on the station and listen for leaks, look for wet spots, or squirting water from drip lines. Where plants have grown over the lines listening may be the best way to find leaks. After the air has escaped the lines, listen for the sounds of escaping water. Check the emitters of plants that look dry.
3- Not sure how much to water? Probe the soil- The soil should be moist but not wet. Brush back mulch around emitters to see the amount of water plants are getting from drip systems. If you want a better way to check moisture content, purchase a soil probe from your local garden center.
Check the posting “Scheduling your Controller in Warm Weather” for more watering tips.