By Bob Dailey
Untold thousands of gallons of drinking water pour onto the Woodlands streets (and into the storm sewers) during lawn irrigation for much of the growing season.
Much of that runoff is caused by running the irrigation zones too long. More water is being placed on the ground than the soil can absorb at any given time.
Using a “cycle and soak” method is a much more efficient way to irrigate lawns. It’s simple, will help save water, and will develop a healthier and more deeply-watered lawn. By getting water deeply into the soil, grass roots will grow longer and deeper, making the plants more resistant to disease, drought and insect damage.
Running each zone for 30 minutes, and then ending the irrigation event, doesn’t get the water down where it needs to be. And much of it runs off into the street. The “wetting front,” which is how far the water goes into the soil, will only be about two inches deep. That’s where the grass roots will stay, because there is no need for them to grow deeper.
To grow deeper roots and to keep the water on the lawn instead of on the street, reduce each zone to 7 minutes and run the cycle three times. During each soaking, capillary action in the soil will extend the “wetting front” down to where it’s needed.
If there is a rain event, there may be no need to irrigate. In fact, installing a rain sensor will adjust your system to take into account the amount of rainfall – another easy way to save money and build a healthier lawn. Woodlands Water offers a 50% rebate (up to $150) for rain sensors and other water saving devices.
Residents are reminded that the Odd/Even Defined Irrigation Schedule is in effect. Lawns need only an inch of water a week, and even less if it rains.