How much water do my plants need? When should I adjust my timer? Why are my plants losing their leaves? Remember the “Double S’s”—Soil and Season. It is important to remember that not only is the season a factor, but soil conditions also play a critical role in the frequency and the amount of water that a plant needs to thrive. Often it is not the amount of water applied to the root-zone, but how much water is available for absorption. Soil conditions are the major factor in the retention of moisture. Sandy soils can leach water rapidly leaving little to no moisture available for the roots absorb. Clay soils can become saturated, retaining too much water and creating conditions that are conducive to root-rot. Caliche soils may absorb no water which cause run-off conditions whereby the root will wither and die. Natural soil conditions can, and often do, vary from one part of a yard to another. Therefore, it is important to excavate large holes and add the proper soil amendments when planting new plants. It is also important to periodically mulch established plants to ensure consistent moisture retention and enable roots to utilize that moisture efficiently.

Timer adjustment is not as exact as we would like it to be. There is no magic date, cycle of the moon or scientific equation that dictates when we should reprogram our controller. So, the question is asked—Water Conservation or Landscape Investment Protection? The answer is—We can have both. The perfect number of times per year to reprogram varies from professional to professional, but mostly depends upon individual preference. The minimum number of times per year is two times and the ideal is probably six times, with the controller being “OFF” during periods of extended rainfall. A simple method for remembering when to adjust the watering schedule is the “Holiday Method”, Christmas, April Fools’ Day, Memorial Day and Halloween. Using this method will be both economically and environmentally efficient. In any landscape situation, there is usually what is called an ‘indicator plant’. This plant will let us know when irrigation is needed for itself and other plants on that system. If we keep it healthy and happy, the rest will be healthy and happy as well.

As a general rule, it is a more efficient use of water to irrigate for a longer duration and less frequently, than for shorter periods of time every day. Remember, landscaping is a dynamic endeavor and irrigation is not an exact science. And every situation is an ongoing experiment. Make it fun, and enjoy the beauty.  #irrigation repair, #Tucson, #Marana, #drip irrigation, #sprinklers, #timer, #season

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