No need to water every day, local expert says
Water restrictions in the Redlands are requiring hundreds of people to water lawns and gardens less frequently. Some plants such as tomatoes and other vegetables need a consistent amount of water. But overwatering gardens, lawns and trees can have negative effects, according to Mesa County’s Colorado State University Extension Office.
“If you water it every day, you’re causing it a great deal of harm,” Mesa County master gardener Ken Sublett said of lawns. “Roots need oxygen as well as water. If you water every day you are setting the roots up to not get oxygen. Also extending the period that blades are wet to more than 12 hours a day is setting it up for getting fungi.”
Keeping lawns green, even during times of low water, isn’t as tricky as most might expect if the lawn’s base has been prepared correctly, Sublett said.
Healthy lawns require the correct preparation, including 18 inches of organic matter mixed in with the existing soil. The best techniques include watering frequently for short periods and repeating, instead of letting sprinklers run for hours on end.
“If you see people out there running water for more than 10 minutes, they’re wasting water,” Sublett said.
Other watering tips:
■Don’t water established lawns more than once every three days. The best times to irrigate are between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
■ Adding nitrogen is helpful, but not much more fertilizer is needed in the Grand Valley because there is plenty of phosphorus in the soil.
■ Aerating a lawn can help keep lawns green that are not well prepared.
■ Even in the middle of July, the area’s hottest month, lawns only need about 1.5 inches of water a week. Pop-up sprayers mist about 2 inches of water an hour.
■ Keep water at constant rates for vegetables, such as tomatoes, but overwatering can cause blossom end rot or tomatoes that split.
■ Kentucky bluegrass lawns need 55 to 65 inches of water per year. Trees, except some varieties such as Colorado blue spruce, need 30 to 40 inches of water over the year, not just during the summer months.
■ Raising the mower blade on your lawn mower will help lawns stay greener longer.
■ Lawns grown in sandy soil require more frequent irrigation than lawns in clay soil.
Residents with questions on how to make their irrigation water go further can call the local extension office at 244-1834. More information about the Grand Valley’s water conservation practices can be found at http://www.thedripwebsite.com.