If you’re a homeowner in the Austin, TX area, you might want to think twice about watering your lawn more than once a week.
For homeowners within Austin’s city limits, once-a-week watering restrictions were imposed permanently in 2015. If, for instance, your watering day is Wednesday, you’re supposed to irrigate your lawn from midnight to 5 a.m. or 7 p.m. to midnight.
Austin’s once-a-week watering schedule “acknowledges that the region could still be in a long-term drought or even a permanent shift in climate,” Austin City Manager Marc Ott said in 2015.
Photo: Flickr/Daniel Hoherd
Not every community in the Austin area is as strict about watering the lawn, though. Austin’s largest suburb, Round Rock, ended mandatory water restrictions in May 2015 but still encourages a twice-a-week watering schedule. Meanwhile, the suburb of San Marcos stopped mandatory water restrictions in November 2015 but still maintains year-round water conservation rules: Sprinklers can be used any day before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m., and watering by hand or using soaker hoses or drip irrigation is permitted any day at any time.
Here are seven tips for navigating the lawn-watering landscape in the Austin area.
1. Pick the Right Time.
To reduce water evaporation and waste, Austin Water Utility suggests watering your lawn in the early morning when temperatures and wind speeds are their lowest.
2. Be Wise About the Water.
Even in the hottest months, your lawn needs no more than 1 inch of water per week. “Don’t forget to take rainfall into account,” Austin Water Utility says. In the spring and fall, cooler temperatures let you get away with watering every other week, rather than once a week during the summer, the utility says.
3. Heed the Need for Seed.
Avoid overseeding your lawn with winter grass that requires watering, Austin Water Utility advises. Warm-season turf, such as St. Augustine and bermuda, essentially goes to sleep during the winter and receives enough water from precipitation.
4. Join the Aeration Nation.
Aerate your lawn at least once a year by punching holes about 6 inches apart to let water reach the roots rather than run off the turf, Austin Water Utility suggests.
5. Be Shady.
Water grass that’s in the shade about 30 percent less than grass that’s in sunny areas. “Shade creates a microclimate of cooler temperatures and lower evaporation, so plants need less water,” Austin Water Utility says.
6. Do a Checkup.
Thoroughly check your irrigation system each spring when you first turn it on and repair any leaks right away, Austin Water Utility recommends.
7. Check Sprinkler Heads.
After each mowing, make sure sprinkler heads haven’t been broken or knocked out of alignment, Austin Water Utility says.
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Photo: Flickr/Gideon Chilton