Seminole County OSU Cooperative Extension

Watering the Yard and Garden Efficiently

During the summer, watering the landscape and garden can be the primary focus of our activities. Irrigation systems, whether a simple hose-end sprinkler or an elaborate in-ground system, help us accomplish this great task with a little more ease. Obviously some systems require a little more attention and effort than others. However, all should be closely monitored and managed so that they are working efficiently and providing adequate coverage for the plants’ needs.

 A minimum of one inch of water per week is usually required to maintain optimum growth of most plants. However, that will vary depending on the types of plants grown, the soil type, and weather conditions. During the hottest and driest part of the summer, two or more inches per week may be necessary. But, how much water does your sprinkler(s) put out?

 One way to find out how much water your system is discharging is to catch the water. Use straight-sided canisters such as tuna cans and place them randomly under the sprinkler pattern. About six cans work well. Turn the sprinkler(s) on and let them run for about 15 minutes. Turn off the water and measure the depth of water caught in each can using a simple ruler. Average all the measurements together and this will tell you how much the system is discharging and how long to run the sprinkler system. For example, you wish to place one inch of water when you irrigate. The average amount of water that was measured when running the system for 15 minutes was .25 inches. So, you will need to run your system for one hour in order to irrigate one inch.

 Some plants require constantly moist soils to maintain optimum growth and performance while others are quite drought tolerant and might even prefer drier soils. One way to make sure all the plants in the landscape are getting what they need is to group plants together based on their watering needs. Be careful not to plant together two plants that have completely different water needs or one of them will eventually suffer and die.

 Oklahoma State University, U. S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local governments cooperating; Oklahoma State University in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices, or procedures, and is an equal opportunity employer.

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