The summer heat wave has Utah homeowners facing a dilemma - how to keep lawns green without a skyrocketing water bill.
With the very real possibility of a water shortage if drought conditions persist, even homeowners with irrigation water face burned lawns.Bill Varga, Utah State University Extension horticulturist, has some tips to help conserve water while preserving your lawn:
-Cut back on watering evergreens. Varga said most established evergreens, both trees and foundation plantings, are well-suited to Utah drought conditions and need much less water than people usually give them. He suggests they be watered deeply just once a month.
-Set your lawn mower so the grass is left as long as possible. Varga said grass roots grow proportionally longer when the above-ground grass blades are longer. Longer roots need watering less often.
-Water grass less frequently, but for longer periods of time. For example, water for one-half hour every three days rather than ten minutes every day.
-Water your lawn in the morning or evening. Early morning or late-evening watering will put more water on plants rather than up into the atmosphere as evaporation. Varga said that for those with sprinkler timers, 4 to 8 a.m. is the optimum watering time.
-Verify effectiveness of sprinklers. If you place a few tuna cans on the lawn while you are watering, you will be able to judge how long to leave sprinklers on. An inch of water in the can generally will wet the top 10 inches of soil, depending on soil type.
-Plan ahead for next year. Varga suggests planting shallow-rooted plants like flowers near the lawn's edge, so they can benefit from the lawn's watering.
He also suggests buying drought-tolerant plants whenever possible. Then, when you think back to how difficult it was to maintain your lawn and garden this year, you'll be able to relax a bit and enjoy a lower water bill next summer.