FREE IRRIGATION CHECKS
Do you know how long and how often you should be watering?
As much as generalizations are made, there really is not easy answer to this question. Irrigation varies with different types of sprinkler heads, soil texture, and system efficiency. Next door neighbors may need to irrigate completely different depending on these factors.
There are two ways to figure out an individualized irrigation schedule. The first is to do your own water audit. Here a homeowner will need to evaluate the needs of their own system. Follow the link for step-by-step instructions on how to do this. https://cwel.usu.edu/watercheck
The second option is to have a trained auditor do a check for free. For those living in Weber, Davis, Morgan, or Summit counties, please call 801-771-1677 to schedule an appointment.
All others living in the state of Utah can request an appointment at https://slowtheflow.org/are-you-waterwise/#schedule
Please call Weber Basin Water’s main line at 801-771-1677 if you have any questions about the program.
Three things you can do right now to help your lawns stay nice and green this July and August.
In Utah we take pride in our homes. You can drive through almost any neighborhood and see dark green manicured lawns, weed-free flower beds, and neatly pruned trees and shrubs. The waning of winter giving way to spring is almost like watching a nature show on public television, if you watch long and hard enough you can almost see the bulbs peek through the soil, the buds on the trees swell, and the golden hue of dormant grass begin to turn bright green.
Green grass. A high standard sought by many a homeowner is to have that perfect green lawn.
Achieving this standard can be costly. Fertilizer is purchased multiple times a year, weed killer is applied, edgers are primed, and mowers can be heard running nearly every Sunday morning.
As spring gives way to summer lawn maintenance increases dramatically. But did you know that the best thing you can do for your lawn this time of year is prepare it for the heat of the summer? How do you get it ready?
In Utah 90% of our lawns are “cool season” grasses. These types of grasses thrive in the cooler parts of the year and struggle in the heat. That is why our lawns green up readily in the spring and in the fall and go yellow as the temperatures increase. When it goes yellow it is not dying, it is trying to go dormant. Our lawns are actually extremely drought tolerant in that they can go dormant (yellow) and can live with very little water. But who wants a yellow lawn in the summertime? Not most of us. To combat this and keep our grass green we pour on the water.
Here are three easy, inexpensive things you can do this time of year to get your grass ready for the heat.
1. Let your lawn stress a bit. This may sound odd, but the best thing you can do right now for your lawn is let it go as long as possible without water. Our soils are still nice and wet from the moisture we received in winter and recent rain storms. Soil is like a reservoir for plant roots, when the reservoir is full, it’s full. Adding more water won’t do anything. It will either drain out of the root zone or run off and be wasted. Let your soil get dry before watering. Try holding off watering until Mother’s Day or even later depending on the weather.
Letting the soil dry out a bit by waiting as long as possible to water forces plant roots deeper into the ground. The same principle applies later on by not watering as frequently when you do water. These deep roots will keep your grass nice and green once it gets hot. Watering every day encourages shallow roots (why would they go deep if they don’t have to) and thatch. Thatch prevents water from permeating into the soil and shallow roots dry up quickly in the heat, causing individuals to think that they need to water more frequently.
Why is this a good time of year to let your lawn stress a bit? Because it’s still cool and you won’t see the effects of the stress as much as if you were trying to train your grass to grow deep roots in July and August.
2. Aerate. As mentioned above, thatch can be an issue. Contrary to popular belief, thatch is NOT dead grass clippings that have been allowed to fall during mowing. It is made up of tiny surface roots that make a mat-like layer at the surface of the soil that sometimes doesn’t let water through. What causes it? Overwatering and too much fertilizer. Aerating your lawn once a year with a core aerator is a good habit to get into. You may want to do it twice a year if you have heavy soils (like clay) or compaction issues. Those with sandy soils or good irrigation practices can often get away with aerating only every other year.
3. Fix your irrigation system. This may seem obvious, but as we’ve visited homes we’ve noticed that MANY dry spots are a result of a miss-managed or poorly designed irrigation systems. These spots are often the result of sunken, tilted, broken, clogged, turned irrigation heads, or heads spaced too far apart. Fix everything right now to avoid ever getting those pesky dry spots. Do a monthly audit. Turn on each of your zones and see if your dry spots are even getting hit by your sprinklers. Most of us want to be water efficient so we water during the night and don’t see how our sprinklers are doing, remaining oblivious to maintenance issues that need to be fixed. Don’t be oblivious, turn on your sprinklers and take a look at what’s going on.
By doing these three simple things, letting your lawn stress a bit, aerating, and auditing your system on a regular basis, you can have the greenest lawn in the neighborhood this July and August without too much money or water being wasted. Let’s keep our lawns green and happy the healthy way.
Think Family. Think Water.
Here in Utah, we tend to have bigger families than the rest of the nation. According to Utah’s Public Health Data Resource, we have the highest birth rate in the nation. What can we say? We love our families. And most of us are concerned with what the state of the world will be like when our kids reach adulthood.
Utah is the second driest of the fifty states. The only other state in the U.S. that receives less average precipitation is Nevada. We’re dry. No matter how you look at it the vast majority of Utah’s growing population is influenced by our high birth rate, and as that population number increases, less water will be available per person. Certain climate projections also suggest that the drier years may come more frequently.
Think about what this means for our future families. This means that we and our children need to tighten our belts and get on board with water conservation. Water is a limited resource and to ensure a high quality of life for future generations changes in our water use will need to happen
Think of all the water you use in your home. Did you know that the average home uses three thousand gallons of water to irrigate their lawn, ONCE? Did you know that an average sink puts out two gallons of water per minute? Did you know that the average bathtub takes seventy gallons to fill? Did you know that leaks and loose fittings in a household can waste thousands of gallons a year? Did you know that over 70% of the water we use goes on our landscapes? Now think of your growing families. With our growing population and current water use behaviors, the watershed will struggle more often than not to keep up.
It’s thinking of all the little things that will make a difference and changing our mindset to be more efficient with our water use. Plant perennials instead of grass. Water your lawn one day less a week this summer. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Check your toilets for leaks. Only do laundry when you have a full load. There are a million ways to save. Try a couple, your children and future grandchildren will thank you.
Think families. Think water.
Resolve to Save!
January is a time of new beginnings and resolving to change old past poor habits into newer nicer ones. People resolve to eat better, exercise more, spend less, and change a plethora of other things. What about water? Did you know that Utah is the second driest state? And one of the fastest growing? We have big families and our healthy economy encourages an influx of residents.
What does this mean for our water supply? Utahans are sharing a relatively small cup, the more straws we have drinking from the cup, the less water we have to go around. Almost %100 of our water supply is collected in the mountains during the winter as snow. When spring comes the snow melts and water is captured in our reservoirs to be saved for summer. While our reservoirs may look like they hold plenty of water, they don’t hold enough for everyone to use as much as they please.
This year add water conservation to your list of habits to change. Below are 52 ways to save water; that’s one idea for each week of the year.
1. Wash fruits and vegetables in a tub of water instead of letting the sink run. Afterward, use the water to water houseplants or plants on your patio.
2. Wash dishes in a tub of water or plug the sink to do the scrubbing in. Don’t let the water run.
3. Rinse all your dishes at once, not one at a time.
4. Use a high-efficiency dishwasher. These use about 5 gallons of water per load. That’s the equivalent of letting your tap run for only 2.5 minutes!
5. Replace your old dishwasher with an efficient model. Doing so could save 1,000 gallons a year.
6. Make sure to run the dishwasher only when it’s full.
7. Don’t rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, just scrape them off.
8. Don’t use hot water to defrost food, leave it in the fridge overnight instead.
9. Water used to cook foods such as pasta or vegetables can be used to water plants as long as salt or fats were not added to the water.
10. Use the proper size pan for the amount of water when cooking. Doing so will save water and keep more nutrients in the food.
11. Drink from the tap instead of bottled water. It takes about 1.5 gallons of water to manufacture a single plastic bottle. No need to be worried about water quality, Water coming from Weber Basin’s water treatment facilities is monitored closely to ensure cleanliness and quality.
12. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge instead of running the tap run while waiting for clean water.
13. Keep a cup of bottle handy for water and don’t wash it between every drink.
14. Showers are better than baths. It takes about 70 gallons to fill an average bathtub. Showers use significantly less water.
15. Take shorter showers. Challenge yourself to see how short of a shower you can. Consider using a shower timer to keep yourself accountable.
16. Turn off the water while you lather yourself up with shampoo or soap.
17. Install low-flow shower heads. Doing so can save up to 15 gallons for a ten-minute shower.
18. Use a cup or basin to wash your razor instead of letting the water run
19. Install faucet aerators to taps to save water without reducing pressure. Worried about it getting clogged with calcium deposits? No problem! Simply soak the aerator in vinegar overnight and rinse off.
20. Turn off the tap while you later your hands or brush your teeth.
21. Install a low-flow toilet! Weber Basin Water offers rebates to swap your old, inefficient toilet with a newer, efficient model. Go to http://weberbasin.com/index.php/rebates/rebates to learn more.
22. Only flush when you need to! Use a wastebasket for tissues or hair.
23. Check your toilet and faucet for leaks frequently.
24. Swap your old washer for a high-efficiency model. They use 35-50% less water.
25. Choose a front-loader. They use 60% less water than top loaders.
26. Do the old sniff test before washing. It’s okay to wear clothes more than once without washing. Doing fewer loads means less work for you!
27. Wait until you have a full load to do laundry. Don’t do partial loads.
28. Skip the extra rinse. Make sure you’re using the proper amount of detergent. If you are, you won’t need to do extra rinses.
29. Check your washer for leaks and drips.
30. Try not to use hot water whenever possible. This may not necessarily save water, but it will save you money on your energy bill.
31. Consider a greywater system that will recycle water from laundry, taps, and showers back into the system for non-potable uses.
32. Line dry if you can. Saving energy saves water!
33. Irrigate your lawn less often. The average Utahan uses almost double the amount of water needed to keep their lawn green and healthy. Every day you don’t irrigate saves almost 3,000 gallons.\
34. Invest in a smart controller. These watch the weather and automatically adjust your schedule depending on how hot and dry it is. The state of Utah offers rebates for approved smart controllers. Click http://weberbasin.com/index.php/rebates/rebates to learn more.
35. Wait to water until Mother’s Day. Unless we have an abnormally hot-dry spring, the soil should stay wet until then without irrigating.
36. Don’t water during the hot times of the day. Watering during the night or early morning will reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
37. Consider planting lawn varieties that need less water to thrive.
38. Don’t cut your grass too short. Leave it about 3 inches long. This is optimal for drought resistance and weed control.
39. There are many factors that can cause brown spots in your lawn that aren’t lack of water. Learn how to differentiate between the different types of damage.
40. Check your irrigation system often to make sure you don’t have any clogged, broken, or misaligned heads that are causing dry spots.
41. Hand-water dry spots rather than increasing the time or frequency of your whole irrigation system.
42. Get rid of the grass and plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. These types of plants use much less water than turf and actually require less maintenance.
43. Learn how to make the swap by taking a Localscapes class. Visit https://localscapes.com/ to sign up for one near you.
44. Choose drought-tolerant plants that need less water. There are thousands of varieties that aren’t cactus and succulents. Visit a learning garden in your area to find great options. http://www.utahpublicgardens.org/
45. Use mulch in your flower beds. This will keep water from evaporating from the surface of the soil and keep weeds down.
46. Use a drip system to water flower beds. This saves water by only watering the base of the plant and not the soil in-between, which not only saves water but cuts down on the number of weeds.
47. Keep your soil healthy! Add compost every year to increase water holding capacity, drainage, and nutrients. Healthy soils make healthy plants.
48. Use a broom rather than a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks, and patios.
49. Choose a hose end that has a shut. This will enable to you turn the water off without having to return to the hose spigot.
50. Use a bucket and sponge to wash the car instead of allowing the hose to run.
51. Cover pools when not in use and check frequently for leaks.
52. Take a class from Weber Basin to learn about best gardening practices for Utah. As it is the second driest state, we need to be more careful with this valuable, limited resource. Sign up for a class at http://weberbasin.com/index.php/classes-events/classes-events.
Remember that water is a limited resource. If we all save a little, together we save a lot.
Think resolutions. Think water.