If you’re like most homeowners in the Fort Worth, TX, area, you’re soaking your lawn with two to three times more water than it needs. That means millions upon millions of gallons of water are going to waste each year in the Fort Worth area. In Fort Worth alone, outdoor watering accounted for an average 37 percent of all water used by single-family households from 2004 to 2011.
Here are five tips that will help you become a smarter, ecology-minded lawn waterer in Fort Worth and surrounding suburbs.
1. Know the Rules.
In the city of Fort Worth, year-round restrictions are in place that limit outdoor watering to two times a week. Check with your water supplier about watering restrictions in your neighborhood.
2. Follow the 6-Inch Rule.
If there’s at least 6 inches of soil, watering once a week is enough to maintain your lawn, according to a report from the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club. Twice-a-week watering will replenish moisture if the soil is shallower than 6 inches.
Depending on the grass type, the amount of water needed per week generally ranges from half an inch to 1 inch. St. Augustine grass will require more water than bermuda, buffalo and zoysia grasses.
3. Do the Math.
To figure out how long you should set your sprinkler to achieve a 6-inch depth, arrange five open-top shallow cans (like those used for tuna or cat food) randomly spaced within the area covered by the sprinkler, the Texas Water Development Board says. Set the sprinkler for 30 minutes. Measure the depth of water in each can, and determine the average depth by adding the total from each can and dividing that number by five (the number of cans).
Insert a spade or probe into the soil to measure the depth to the dry area, the water board says. Wet soil will pierce easily; stop when you hit the resistance of the dry soil. This lawn sleuthing will provide the amount of water required to moisten the soil to a certain depth in half an hour. If 30 minutes yields 3 inches of wet soil and an average of half an inch of water in the cans, an hour will yield 6 inches of wet soil and a 1-inch accumulation.
4. Watch the Time.
The best time to water your lawn is early morning or late evening, when you’ll lose less water to evaporation, the water board says. Keep in mind that leaving your lawn wet overnight invites grass diseases.
5. Keep an Eye on Efficiency.
Low-output sprinkler heads, bubblers and drip irrigation systems reduce runoff and are efficient tools for watering your lawn, the water board says.
“Drip irrigation systems take longer to wet the soil but lose very little water to evaporation,” the board says. “Automatic sprinklers offer convenience but must be managed to avoid water waste.”
Searching for lawn care service in the Fort Worth area? Check out our Fort Worth lawn care page.
Photo: Flickr/Robert Couse-Baker