Landscape Watering Do’s & Dont’s

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Lawn irrigation

Residential sprinkler system in Cary. PHOTO BY ROGER WINSTEAD

In our part of the world, irrigation is necessary if you want healthy lawns and gardens. Often, I see automatic sprinklers going when we have just had a rain and even while it is raining.

Don’t – use sprinklers that spray the water high into the air, because a large amount of it will evaporate before it ever hits the ground.

Do – use systems that have spray-heads low to the ground.

Don’t – water lawns too little or too much. If you water too little, you encourage shallow root growth making the turfgrass dependent on irrigation and making it susceptible to damage from drought and cold. Too much water could lead to disease problems.

Do – give lawns 1” of water per week during dry spells. If you have an irrigation system, make sure it has a rain sensor to stop the system from coming on when it’s raining. Use a rain gauge or empty tin can to learn how long it takes your system to apply 1”.

Don’t – water late in the day or evening as foliage will have an extended period of wetness and be prone to disease.

Do – water early in the day so foliage has time to dry before night.

Don’t – irrigate trees and shrubs with sprinkler systems. High-pressure spray that repeatedly hits in the same spot can damage stems leading to disease and even death of the plant.

Do – water established trees and shrubs with direct watering or soaker type hoses when we have extended dry periods. Trees & shrubs planted within the past 3 years, will need watering about once/week during dry spells.

Water is a precious resource and we need to use it wisely. Union County Public Works has established Water Conservation Stages that reflect the current drought conditions and the appropriate actions required to keep our water supply healthy and strong. To learn more, visit the website