Rule #1: There is a bigger chance that you will over water before you under water. Too much water is as bad as no water, causing plants to actually die from drought because their roots are sitting in water and cannot get air and therefore they cannot take up any water to the top. Waterlogged plants/grass do not live long.
The idea is to keep plants damp not soaked.
Do not water plants or grass until they begin to need it. If it rains, your automatic rain sensor will cut the irrigation off for a day or 2, but you may need to cut it to “manual off” if you get a big rain. After a big rain, leave the irrigation off until the plants begin to look a little like they need it. Plants leaves will droop a little and grass will turn from green to blue/green. When you see this, turn the controller back to “on/run” and resume daily watering until you get another big rain, then repeat as described above.
Grass goes from green to blue/green to brown tips to brown leaves and then the grass begins to die back. Time to hit grass is in the blue/green stage.
Plants go from green to droopy to curled leaves to brown leaves and then they begin to die. Time to water is in the droopy stage. Too much water will make your plants spoiled and weak with shallow roots. Only water when they begin to need it as described above.
Best time to water is early morning as it washes off the dew and holds down fungus. Have all of your watering done before it gets sunny and hot.
The best schedule for watering is “Every day” while it is dry. If it rains, cut it off until you need it again as described above.
You are watering shrubbery TOO MUCH if you squish water under your feet when you walk in your shrubbery beds. Shrubbery will need more watering the first year after you plant it than any other time. The second year; your shrubbery will need very little supplemental irrigation.
If you water your grass and you cannot mow it that same day without making a mess, you are watering it too much. If it looks very stressed at the end of the day, you need a little more. There is no such thing as setting a controller up and never making adjustments. If it is really hot you will need more time on the clock. Spring and fall watering are less than summers, etc. Common sense.
Do not water shaded areas as much as sunny areas. Sprinklers turning 180 degrees require half as much time as sprinklers turning 360 degrees. Low areas need much less water than high areas. Pop-up sprinklers put out about 3 times the water that rotary sprinklers do. If a rotary sprinkler requires 15 minutes to get an area wet enough, a pop-up sprinkler would do it in about 5 minutes. Drip irrigation needs to run 2-3 times as much as a rotary sprinkler because it drips slowly so as not to waste any or have a run-off.
Do not water for a day after putting out most herbicides and fungicides. Some insecticides must be watered in. READ THE LABEL: It will tell you about watering.
Extra water is needed if you aerate and reseed your lawn in the fall. [See Sides: Fescue lawn maintenance sheet]. We also have one available to our customers on Bermuda grass.
Water and heat cause fungus. Be careful. Weeds like a lot of water also. Watch your lawn.
There is no such thing as set it and forget it unless you want an ugly yard. Irrigation systems require constant tweaking and adjusting.
Pretty Yards are not an accident, and low maintenance is only for the forest.