Important Hot Weather Watering Tips

The drought-like conditions we’ve all been experiencing has put us in a tough spot once again this summer…

That’s because at GreenScape.ca we have two separate responsibilities to you…

  1. To ensure you enjoy green, healthy lawns & shrubs, and colorful, vigorous gardens
  2. To help you manage your water resources, while understanding the cost implications of watering, relative to having those green, healthy lawns and colorful gardens.

Under normal weather conditions, watering every 2 or 3 days would usually be plenty. But, in the drought-like conditions we’ve been experiening most of the summer – and to ensure your plants aren’t stressed or won’t die-off – you really should be watering every day.

Image of sun shining, suggesting the importance of watering in dry weather.

The City of Ottawa has been running ads  telling us it’s ‘okay’ to water… because Ottawa doesn’t have a water shortage.

The news about water shortages and the need to reduce water usage only apply if you pump your water from the Rideau River… and so far, those reductions are voluntary.

So, if you’ve got brown patches on your lawn – in most cases it’s not a problem with your sprinkler
system – it’s more likely that you’re simply that not watering long enough or often enough for the extraordinary conditions.

Here’s the quick ‘science’ behind what your lawn is facing every day (your gardens are similar, but they’re a little more tolerant)…

The typical lawn sprinkler zone applies about .27 to.30 inches ( .69 to .76 centimeters) of water for each hour it runs.

With our current, extremely hot, humid conditions, the average amount of moisture evaporating from the soil in your yard is about .25 to .35 inches (.64 to .89 centimeters) each day.

That means (allowing for differences in shade, soil, slope, etc.), if you only water every other day, your landscape will only ‘get back’ about 50% of the water the hot & dry conditions have ‘sucked’ out of it in 2 days.

And, this ‘moisture deficit’  will become worse the longer your landscape remains under-watered. That’s why, even though your lawn & gardens may have initially seemed to be managing, they began to get worse and worse, until you may have finally called for help.

The bottom line is – even watering every day will, at best
Just barely keep up with the moisture your landscape is losing to the heat…

More on effects of heat – one of the biggest contributors to your lawn turning brown is the mid-day heat. Over and above daily watering, one way you could give your most severely affected lawn areas a big lift (not needed in the gardens) is with a 20 to 30 minute, second watering cycle during the hottest part of the day.

Yep, we know… we’ve all heard you shouldn’t water during the day. But, with these weather conditions, watering during the day will allow the evaporation process to wick the heat off the grass blades, cooling them down (similar to the way we perspire).

As it is right now, the searing heat is literally drying out and burning-up your grass, causing it to go dormant, even though there might be enough moisture in the roots.

If you don’t believe us, check out your local golf course. You’ll usually see they regularly have their sprinklers running during the day. And isn’t the grass is always green there?

So it’s important to us that you understand and appreciate your choices…

  • You can save water costs – by not increasing your watering frequency. But please understand, your lawn will turn/stay brown and go dormant (and should recover when the weather becomes more seasonal). While you’ll want to watch for serious plant issues, your lawn and plants shouldn’t die, since they’ll still be getting regular watering, based on the schedule currently programmed into your controller.
  • You can keep your lawn actively green & growing – which also helps a lot in your ‘war’ against weeds and pests. Because your grass will continue growing vigorous blades and roots ‒ weeds and pests (which are expensive to get rid of) won’t be as likely to gain a foothold. However, you’ll need to start watering every day, increasing the length of each watering cycle as well. To cool things down, areas of your lawn in the most stress may need a second watering during the hottest part of the day.

But with current weather conditions, you can’t have both…

And we can’t make the choice for you. But we can make sure your sprinkler system continues to work well, and that you fully understand the implications of whatever choice you make.

We want to make sure you understand the costs…

If your system runs on city water – on an average 60’ x 100’ city lot, the typical sprinkler system will use about $8.00 (+/-) of water each time it runs a normal cycle.

You can use this number – along with the size of your yard and how often you plan to water – to get a rough idea of how much your  water costs will increase.

If daily watering makes sense, you can just adjust your controller to come on every day (or you can call us to book a site visit and we’ll do it for you), and then, when the weather moderates, you can return your controller to its regular schedule.

If you’re not sure how to adjust your controller, or may have misplaced your owner’s manual, most units have quick instructions on the inside of the controller cover.

Image of a RainBird Sprinkler System controller operation manual from GreenScape.ca lawn and garden sprinkler systems - 613.723.8528

 

You can click here to visit the Rain Bird® website, which features pictures of the different controller units to help you identify yours.Many of them also feature interactive tutorials on how to program your controller. You can also download a copy the operating manual for most RainBird® controllers, manufactured as far back as the mid 1980’s.

An alternative to having to adjust your controller is to look into getting one of our new, ‘Smart,’ weather-based controllers, which adjust themselves automatically, and go a long way to ensuring your landscape gets all the water it needs – without you having to do anything.

We’d be glad to discuss options with you.

For more information, give us a call us at – 613.723.8528

Respectfully,

Your GreenScape.ca Watering Systems Ltd Team