Now that everything has been installed, the key to a successful landscape will be water. After a couple of months your lawn will take root. The drip system is there to sustain your plants, and it will. But in the beginning plants will need extra water to help get started. For the first couple weeks in addition to the settings on your timer, use a bare hose (no attachment) at 1/3 the strength every 3 or 4 days and soak the base of each plant/tree supplementally to make sure they have ample water. Plants will take two or three months to adapt to their environment and establish themselves depending on the time of year. Jefferson Landscape and Design favors the professional grade Hunter Pro-C Irrigation Timer for reliable, consistent watering. But no matter, these first few months are critical to the future health and buoyancy of your landscape.
The Added Benefit of a Dry Climate
The goal is to maximize the water used for your plants and lawn by using it as precisely and as little as possible. In the Bay Area our humidity is low—this means the best time to water is at night. Water has time to work throughout the night, won’t evaporate prematurely, and because we’re in a dry climate, won’t lead to mold or root rot. Deep watering is another effective tool that ultimately uses less water.
Deep Watering = Water Efficiency
How to water once the landscape is more or less established, is a question that continues to puzzle many gardeners and homeowners alike. While you have one type of lawn that gets watered at once, ideal conditions will vary from one plant type to another. There is no silver bullet with such a wide variety of plants. However, while many plants have different needs, most of them will do better being watered less frequently for longer periods of time using the Deep Water Method. Deep watering will allow the water to go where it is needed and give the ground an opportunity to dry between watering, which many plants appreciate. This goes for lawns as well.
Watering for short periods of time, especially with drippers where so little water is used, the water has a tendency to stay at the surface and dry quicker. Deep watering is a strategy incorporated to ensure the roots are supplied with consistent moisture without water waste. Watering deeply allows the soil to be soaked several inches into the root ball developing stronger roots. Watering deeply can be better achieved through the use of a timed drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or even sprinklers, but it must be done carefully. In between watering, the ground must be allowed to dry. Deep watering a lawn produces deeper roots. This means that lawns can better survive periods of drought. Deep watering trees commands their roots to grow downward instead of climbing up in search of water, stretching their roots inappropriately toward a patio or a home’s foundation.
What follows is only a suggestion but will apply to most landscapes so long as your landscape is established.
For the vast majority of clients only watering plants, watering 2x/week for longer periods of time is a great catch-all. Instead of watering your plants for 10 minutes/day where most of it won’t reach the root ball, water them for 25 minutes, 2x/week. This will save water by using less water a week…a month…a year. If you are also watering a lawn, water each plant station the same and water each lawn station for 30 minutes, 2x/week. For those watering a less established lawn in addition to plants, you may find you need to water 3x/week and adjust the minutes according to what you need then switch to 2x/week as soon as you think prudent.
If you switch to this water schedule, you should enjoy a healthier, thriving landscape and save water for you and everyone else (not to mention money).
USE IT OR LOSE IT: In order to keep your drip system working you need to use it so it doesn’t get clogged. This goes for lawn sprinklers too, but especially drip. Watering 2 minutes 2x/week a week even if it’s raining every day just to keep the pipes working and prevent the drippers from becoming clogged is very important. Irrigation should never be shut off completely for more than a week.