I recently saw a newsletter article by Brad Wier, with San Antonio Water System’s Conservation program that I thought very applicable to us as well. I’m borrowing heavily from it with my blog today.
For many homeowners it’s the norm to use more water on their landscapes in July, August, and September. Although the reason seems obvious — hot and dry months take a visual toll on grass — that’s not why customers double their water use in the summer.
The reason for the high bill comes down to sprinkler programming: adding a second start time to the existing program so the entire system runs both morning and evening. It’s a perfectly valid thing to do; but it has the effect of automatically doubling your water consumption, with a similar effect on your bill.
Instead of running the entire system twice, run only the zones that actually need it. Remember, some sprinklers can run 20 gallons per minute, or more! Before you turn them up, determine which zones actually need more water.
Which are your critical zones? Hint: it’s not all of them. Typically, it’s just the grass in full afternoon sun that’s under the most stress, especially if it’s St. Augustine. This might be a single sprinkler station; an extra 10 minutes here may solve the entire problem by targeting the extra water exactly where it’s needed.
Here’s a few places in the landscape that don’t typically need extra water, even in August:
- Landscape beds
- The grass sprinklers in the shade under live oaks
- The garbage cans and the AC condensers
- The sides of the house
- The backyard
- Drip lines (Remember, drip delivers a week’s worth of water directly to the roots in a single cycle; no need to run these more than once per week.
All of this saved run time really adds up when it comes to the bill. When in doubt, don’t change your program. If you need help decoding the sprinkler controller, call or email the Water Conservation staff for a free consultation (if you are a direct City of Round Rock water customer) at 512-671-2872 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
And remember, if you want a landscape that doesn’t get so crispy in August, it’s better to use shade and landscaping than grass and water. Add a layer of mulch to bare areas, around trees, shrubs, and in beds.