We've already been dealing with record-breaking heat this summer and much of the North Texas viewing area remains in moderate to severe drought conditions, watering your plants is a necessity to keep them thriving.
Daniel Cunningham, Texas A&M horticulturist, shared his watering tips to save your plants and your water bill:
Because most of North Texas is pretty dry after the past couple of weeks we’ve had, it seems like proper watering is more important than ever. What are the main concepts to remember so we know we’re watering the right way?
We get a lot of questions about proper watering this time of year, You might say it’s a “hot” topic. One question many North Texans ask is how much water their lawns and landscapes need. Our best advice is to maintain about one inch of water per week, but only during those weeks when it’s not raining. When we’re getting rain its best to turn your irrigation controller off even if it’s your designated watering day. Not only will that save you water and money, but will help prevent any plant disease associated with over watering.
So we know it hasn’t been raining and we need to water our landscape about 1 inch. How many minutes should we water to get that one inch?
That depends on a few factors. If you are using pop up heads it might take 10-15 minutes, or if you are using a hose end sprinkler it might take 45 minutes to an hour and maybe even longer if you are using drip irrigation. The precipitation rate of all of these can vary, depending on what brand you have, your water pressure and that can even vary zone by zone. But the good news is that there is a simple way to estimate how long it takes your specific system to water that one inch of water.
And how do you do it?
All you need to do is set out 5-10 tuna or cat food cans equally around your zone. Then you test your irrigation system to see how long it takes for them to fill up. If its half full after five minutes, you know if you water 10 minutes its going to be all the way full. You just have to do this do once for each zone and no matter what type of set up you have, for the rest of the year you know exactly how long to run that zone to get your one inch.
When is the best time to water?
My favorite time to water is early in the morning. Its cooler, so there’s less evaporation and more water actually gets to the root of the plants. Most cities have restrictions in place that prevent us from watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., the hottest part of the day.
Would there be any issue watering in the evening after 6?
Right now it’s still so hot in the evenings that I would really try to get everything watered pretty early, and that’s also the best time to judge if your plants need water. In the evening some of your plants might be wilted as a heat response, even though they have plenty of water.
What are a few resources where folks can go to get more info on when to water and when to wait?
DFW has two great resources where you can sign up for weekly watering advice. If you’re in the city of Dallas or Fort Worth go to WaterIsAwesome.com and sign up for their weekly watering tips. Or if your somewhere else in North Texas visit WaterMyYard.org. Once your signed up you’ll get weekly updates. That takes the guess work out of watering with advice base on local weather data.
You can see check out free watering guides and you can sign up for free classes AgriLife teaches all over North Texas at WaterUniversity.tamu.edu.