Outdoor Water Use

Watering Tips

  • Make sure your sprinklers are watering your lawn, not the driveway or road.
  • Frequently check your sprinkler system for leaks.
  • Water your lawn during cooler times of the day, early morning or late evening, to prevent water loss to evaporation.
  • Use a drip irrigation system for plants and shrubs to deliver water directly into the ground by the roots.
  • Incorporate drought tolerate plants into your landscaping.
  • A fresh layer of mulch around shrubs and trees will help hold in nutrients and moisture.
  • Adjust lawn mower blades to a higher setting to provide helpful shade to the roots.
  • Keep lawn fertilizer to a minimum; it helps with plant growth but also increases overall water consumption.
  • When using a hose don’t leave it running; use a squeeze nozzle so you can easily control water flow.

Summer Conservation Tips

  • Avoid watering during the heat of the day, between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm, to reduce evaporation.
  • Be mindful of the weather, avoid watering on rainy or windy days.
  • Water deep, 2-3 times a week, depending on the weather.
  • Keep grass 2-3 inches high to shade roots and hold moisture.
  • Avoid watering hard surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways and landscape material.
  • Amend your landscape soil and use mulch to reduce the need for water.
  • Plant water-saving plants. We recommend the Plant Select® brand, developed for our climate and soil conditions.
  • Check your irrigation system – read more under Conservation Programs to learn how to register for a FREE Sprinkler System Audit.
  • Don’t wash your car at home where the water, soap, and road chemicals will wash into the storm-drain. Take your car to the car wash where the water and chemicals will be recycled. 

Caring for Trees in a Dry Climate

Where to Water Your Tree.

Deep watering trees to a depth of 12 inches below the soil surface is recommended. Most of the tree's absorbing roots are in the top twelve inches of the soil. Saturate the soil around the tree within the "dripline" (the outer edges of the tree's branches) to disperse water down toward the roots. Avoid digging holes in the ground in an effort to water deeply. This dries out roots even more.

Water Deeply and Slowly.

Water slowly dispersing the flow of water to get the water deep down to the tree's roots. Watering for short periods of time only encourages shallow rooting, which can lead to more drought damage. Methods for watering include a deep root fork or needle, soaker hose, or soft spray wand.

How Much Water to Apply.

To assure survival of the tree, apply 10 gallons of water for each inch of the tree's diameter. A two inch diameter tree will need 20 gallons per watering. General formula: Tree Diameter times 5 minutes equals Total Water Time.

Example: When you hand water using a hose at medium pressure it will take approximately 5 minutes to produce 10 gallons of water. If you have a 4 inch diameter tree, it should receive 40 gallons of water - multiply 4 (for the tree diameter) by 5 minutes to equal the total water time of 20 minutes.

When to Water.

During prolonged dry periods in the fall and winter, water two to three times per month. Water only when the temperature is above 40 degrees and no snow cover exists.

Mulch Helps Retain Soil Moisture.

Mulch is critical to conserve soil moisture. Apply organic mulch within the dripline, at a depth of four inches.

Moisture is Needed to Avoid Tree Disease.

Stressed trees are more vulnerable to disease, insect infestations, and branch dieback. Keep a watchful eye for anything that looks out of the ordinary.

Do Not Fertilize a Tree That is Under Drought Stress.

Salts in fertilizer may burn roots when there is insufficient water. Fertilizers may also stimulate top growth resulting in too much leaf area on the plant for the root system to maintain during periods of limited soil moisture. Herbicide applications to the lawn can be harmful to dry climate/drought stressed trees.

Pruning Trees:

Leaving broken, dead, insect infested, or diseased branches can further weaken a tree in a dry climate or during a drought and set the tree up for deadly secondary insect and disease problems.