Colorado has faced higher-than-normal temperatures this summer, with several fires burning and severe fire restrictions declared statewide. The hot weather is anticipated to continue into September, and the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado offers five tips homeowners can use to save money and water.
Even the best sprinkler system won’t compensate for poorly designed landscapes. Group plants together according to the conditions they tend to grow best. For example, group plants that grow in hot, dry conditions together in sunny places and group shade-loving plants in protected areas. Rezone sprinklers to accommodate the needs of mature trees and shrubs. Quality soil increases water absorption for plants, and mulch should be used in plant beds and tree wells.Over-watering can kill plants. People are tempted to over-water in hot weather, which causes water waste, higher utility bills and can harm or kill plants instead of saving them. In fact, over-watering is among the most common causes of death in plants because drowning a plant prevents the roots from absorbing oxygen it needs to live. Mildew, mold, fungus and root rot can also destroy plants when excess water sits around the roots.
Save water one drip at a time. Water the plants in a landscape – except for lawns – with drip irrigation, which keeps water from evaporating in a breeze or spilling into a gutter. Water is first absorbed by the plant’s roots, where it’s needed most. Wherever possible, convert more inefficient spray heads to drip-irrigation nozzles. Use the soak-and-repeat strategy at the right time of day. Instead of setting irrigation to run on one cycle, schedule watering systems according to several spaced, shorter cycles. For example, run sprinklers for a shorter period of time, then repeat the watering cycle later in the day. The cycle-and-repeat method provides more time for water to soak into soil and ensures that water, as well as money, isn’t wasted. Also, avoid running watering systems midday. Watering in the heat of the day can result in a 30 percent loss of irrigation water. Instead, water before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m. to avoid evaporation from heat.Make sprinkler systems smarter. The amount of water lawns and gardens need varies day-to-day and season-by-season. To account for changes in soil moisture, rain, evaporation and the water plants need, systems can be upgraded with the addition of “smart” sprinkler controls and components that alter the amount of water being used. Soil moisture sensor kits are often less than $200 and can increase water savings by as much as 40 percent.For more information about Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, visit www.alcc.com.