By Trisha Gedon
Special to The Sun
July is not just a time to celebrate with trips to the lake and backyard cookouts. Gov. Mary Fallin has proclaimed July as “Smart Irrigation Month.”
Justin Moss, assistant professor in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, said July is the peak month for irrigation water use in Oklahoma.
“Because water is a vital resource, it must be managed smartly,” Moss said. “By using appropriate irrigation technologies and combining them with the best management practices, Oklahomans can reduce water usage while still maintaining beautiful and healthy lawns, landscapes and sports fields.”
To make the most of your irrigation system, inspect it regularly to ensure water is being used efficiently in your landscape. Be sure to fix or replace broken sprinkler heads right away.
Homeowners also will want to check the water pressure of the irrigation system. Water pressure can change over time and cause misting or overspraying, which wastes water.
“Be sure to check your system for leaks, too. Read your water bill closely and if you have a sudden increase in cost, a leaky system could be the culprit,” he said. “Also check for soggy or overgrown areas in your yard. To help determine if you have a leak, locate the water meter and turn off the water to everything that uses water, both indoors and outdoors. If your water meter dial is still moving, you have a leak.”
Moss said it is good practice to realign sprinkler heads so sidewalks, roadways and other hardscapes are not being watered.
“In addition, homeowners should check for buried or clogged sprinkler heads and take appropriate action. Another idea is to consider low volume, micro irrigation for gardens, trees and shrubs. Drip irrigation and micro irrigation slowly apply water, which in turn minimizes evaporation and runoff,” he said.
Installing a “smart” water controller is another way to use water wisely. Smart water controllers evaluate weather or soil moisture conditions and automatically adjust the irrigation schedule to meet the specific requirements of your lawn.
For those without a “smart” water controller, manually check your soil moisture and adjust your irrigation schedule accordingly.
Homeowners also should consider installing a rain sensor. This inexpensive device can be retrofitted to most systems and will turn off the irrigation system when it rains.
Moss said adjusting the irrigation schedule based on soil moisture, plant need, evapotranspiration, season and weather is another way to conserve water.
“Oklahoma has experienced severe drought conditions for a couple of years, so it’s important for everyone to do all they can to conserve water,” he said. “Sometimes people think water is a never-ending resource, but we have to do our best to conserve it.”
FOR MORE tips, visit the new water conservation website http://thinkwater.okstate.edu.