Lawn Care Q&A: Water and Sewer expert gives watering tips

By Sarah Sharp

As the city of Blaine’s “Yard of the Week” awards prove, Blaine residents are known for their beautiful lawns and gardens. But a green lawn may not mean necessarily mean a healthy one – or a trimmer wallet.

“Let it go golden,” advises Emily Hagin, the conservation program coordinator for the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District. “Not only will you achieve maximum water savings, but homeowners can best help manage summer peak day demand,” she said. “The lower we can keep peak day demand, the more cost effective our facility maintenance and operations are.” Hagin gave Blaine residents some tips for managing their yards through the year:

What are some tips for lawn care watering? 

• Water deeply, but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.

• Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool.

• Plant drought-resistant trees and plants.

• Water your lawn only when it needs it.

• Save water with a “sleeping lawn.” Lawns go dormant during the hot summer months and green back up when precipitation increases. This ensures the greatest amount of savings.

If you have an in-ground irrigation system:

1) Check and repair clogged or broken sprinkler heads. Be sure to look for sprinklers that may be set too deeply in the ground. Sprinkler heads should be vertical and unobstructed.

2) Find out how long it takes your system to apply a half inch of water. Check your sprinkler head manufacturer’s specification or do the “tuna can test.”*

3) Use a timer to set your watering schedule. Break up your irrigation run times into two or three cycles to allow the water to soak into the soil. Example: If it takes 15 minutes to apply a half inch of water, schedule five-minute cycles with an hour in between.

4) Install a rain sensor to shut off your system during wet weather. Don’t irrigate in the rain!

* Tuna can test:

1. Place several tuna cans or similar containers around your lawn.

2. Turn on the sprinkler for 15 minutes.

3. Measure the water in the cans with a ruler and determine the average depth.

What’s the best time of day to water?

The best time to water is early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.

How much water should your lawn receive in a week?

Your lawn should receive one inch of water per week. Water lawns half an inch twice a week. Start watering on June 1 about once every four days. Through July and August, water once every three days. The best time to stop watering is September 1.

* This schedule is based on average weather and average soils. Extremely hot weather and sandy soils may require an occasional irrigation a day sooner. Cool weather may allow you to skip or postpone a scheduled watering.

How practical is rainwater harvesting for residents?

Rainwater harvesting is very practical for local residents. You are storing water to use when it rains the least. It also helps to manage peak water demand in the summer and peak storm water flows in the winter.

During the summer, demand on local water supplies can peak up to two times higher than the winter average. Higher peak demand requires larger infrastructure, increasing operating costs. Most of this summertime peak comes from outdoor watering. Residents can help control costs by conserving water, irrigating efficiently with rainwater and following the water wisely watering schedule.

During the winter, peak storm water flows cause flooding and erosion. Homeowners can help reduce winter flooding by limiting the amount of impervious surface on their property, properly connecting roof and yard drains to the nearest catch basin, keeping water ways clear of debris and incorporating more native plants and evergreens into their landscaping.

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