August Water

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I am always amazed at how hot and dry the summers are here in Casper. People are continually calling our irrigation specialists wondering why their lawns have “brown spots.” Last year in August it was so hot and windy that the leaves of some trees were actually scorching, drying, and falling off because they couldn’t maintain their transpiration rate. (Transpiration is the rate at which Photosynthate moisture evaporates from the leaf structure). August seems to be the month that people just give up and decide that it is impossible to keep up with the watering needs of their landscapes. I have heard of people winterizing their irrigation systems in August or September and letting their landscapes fall into a drought- induced dormancy because they feel like they just can’t water enough. However, July-September is the time that the plants are producing the much needed energy for next year. So whatever you do; DON’T STOP WATERING until after the first frost.

Plants generally like the hot weather if they have the adequate water that they need. Here are some tips and general advice about how to irrigate your landscape.

 

  • The landscape needs 1.5 inches of water each week during the growing season. This equates to nearly 1 gallon of water per square foot each week.
  • This water needs to be applied slowly so that it can be absorbed into the soil and used efficiently. This may require you to cycle through the zones multiple times during a watering session. For example: a zone that needs to run for 45 minutes can be split up into 3 consecutive 15 minute cycles over a 4 hour period.
  • Calculate the square feet of each landscape zone and then divide that number by the amount of gallons that each sprinkler head is putting out to arrive at a conclusion of how many minutes to run each zone. This scientific approach will take all of the guess work out of watering correctly.
  • Aerate your lawn at least 3 times each season to help it absorb and retain the water efficiently.
  • Keep a good mulch cover around the base of your ornamental plants to help them retain water.
  • The roots of most trees and shrubs in Casper are primarily growing in the top foot of soil.
  • Don’t water for two consecutive days each week as this allows oxygen to enter the soil again. Plants cannot live without oxygen for their roots; and water dis-places that oxygen temporarily.
  • Have an irrigation specialist analyze your system and spend the money to get it working efficiently and effectively. This is called a “Water Audit.”
  • Have an irrigation specialist install a “smart controller” which will utilize weather data to adjust your watering program.

Keep the water flowing; it is a worth- while investment and your plants will thank you.

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