Every year, poor irrigation scheduling leads to a huge loss of plant materials on new landscape projects. Inattention to this crucial element of landscape maintenance can lead to a host of problems including turf grass and landscape shrub diseases.
If your system is not hooked into a smart controller, successful irrigation scheduling requires two basic things: observation and dedication. You can begin by looking carefully at the plants that need to be watered. Some plants can grow directly in water; others, especially those drought-tolerant ones now favored in drought-stricken Texas, will die if their roots are wet for longer than a day.
The first thing to remember when dealing with drought-tolerant plants is to never water when the soil is still wet. Wilting is often a sign that a drought tolerant plant has had too much water. It can also mean that the plant has been stricken by disease or insect damage. On hot afternoons, some drought-intolerant plants will fold their leaves to conserve water. So just because a plant looks wilted, don’t assume that is because it needs water.
When you do water, be sure to saturate the soil around the plant. The primary feeder roots for are located in the top six or so inches of soil, particularly if the plant is in a pot. The feeder roots are very small, unlike the plants lower roots, which exist to support the plant, although they, too, can absorb water if necessary.
If you use sprinklers as your primary method of irrigation, water will likely begin to collect in a low spot or gutter before the soil has been watered to a depth of six inches. When this starts to happen, turn off the sprinklers, wait for an hour for the water to soak in, then turn the sprinklers on again until more runoff occurs. Continue doing this until you are satisfied with the soil has been properly saturated.
Landscape irrigation scheduling is especially important in times of drought. With less water to go around, you have to make the most of every drop you get.