During drought, it is always a challenge to irrigate your landscape, regardless of the state you may live in. However, with recent technological advancements, you will be able to save some “green” without your lawn turning brown. One of the ways to do this is installing an automatic irrigation system that is correctly designed, installed and maintained. It can keep your landscape looking lush while saving water.

Here are some tips from gardening expert Paul James on how best to set up your irrigation controller:

Divide By Zones
Different plants need different amounts of water. Divide your yard into separate irrigation zones so the grass can be watered separately and more frequently than ground cover, shrubs and trees.

Keep It Balanced
Put measuring cups in various places around your lawn and run the sprinklers for 15 minutes. This will give you an idea of how much water the grass is getting and where. You’re looking for about one to two inches—depending on the soil—evenly distributed. An underground sprinkler system is probably the best way to be sure the lawn is evenly covered.

Break Up the Watering Schedule
The greatest waste of water comes from applying too much, too often—much of it runs off and is never absorbed. Instead of watering for one long continuous session, try splitting the watering time into shorter periods and take 15-minute breaks in between each session. This will let the water soak in, while minimizing runoff.

Watch The Clock
Water between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.—when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Mid-day watering tends to be less efficient because of water loss due to evaporation and windy conditions during the day. Watering in the evening isn’t a good idea either because leaves can remain wet overnight—an open invitation for fungus to grow. By watering in the morning, you give the leaves a chance to dry out during the day.

Adjust The System to the Season and Be Rain Smart
Adjust your irrigation system as the seasons and weather change. You can also install a shut-off device that automatically detects rain or moisture. These devices are inexpensive and let you take advantage of nature’s free watering service.

Water Only What Grows
If you have an underground sprinkler system, make sure the heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways. A properly adjusted sprinkler head should spray large droplets of water, not a fine mist, to minimize evaporation and wind drift.

Consider Drip
When it comes to watering individual trees, flowerbeds, potted containers or other non-grassy areas, you can apply water directly to the roots with low volume drip irrigation. This will reduce water waste through evaporation or runoff and keep weeds from growing.

Do Routine Inspections
Periodically check your sprinklers to make sure everything is working properly. A clogged head or a torn line can wreak havoc on your landscape and water bill.

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