Try the WaterWiser Drip Calculator to measure and estimate water wasted from leaks.
Lawn Watering Guide
Click here for lawn irrigation tips from the UNL Extension Office
- Raise mower height one inch in June, July and August.
- April and May: Roots of cool season lawns (blue grass, fescue) are deep now. Apply supplemental water in the absence of natural rainfall-about an inch per week. Water deeply and infrequently.
- June: Roots of cool season lawns begin to slough off for the summer. Apply supplemental water in the absence of rainfall-about 1.25 inches per week. Water more frequently and more shallow than in spring.
- July and August: Roots of cool season lawns are at their shallowest point of the season. Apply supplemental water in the absence of rainfall-about 1.5 inches per week. Water to the depth of the root system (usually about 2 inches deep). Water more frequently and more shallow than in spring.
- September and October: Roots of cool season lawns are deep now. Water deeply and infrequently. Apply supplemental water in the absence of rainfall-about an inch per week.
Outdoor Wise Water Use
- Water every other day, unless you have new sod.
- Water in the early morning, 4 to 10 a.m., to allow grass blades to dry, making them less susceptible to foliar diseases. Watering is more efficient in the morning due to less evaporation and wind speed. Don't water if it's windy.
- Measure the amount of water applied to your lawn in a 15-minute period using collection devices such as a tuna or coffee can. Adjust the run time on your sprinkler system to deliver the required amount. Contact a lawn care professional if you need help.
- When watering on a slope, use "delayed starts." Run your sprinkler until you notice runoff, then stop. Wait three hours, then resume. Aerate every year or so to increase infiltration.
- Observe your sprinkler system once a month. Look for heads that don't turn, heads that spray the street or sidewalk, bent or damaged heads, clogged or worn nozzles or orifices, turf growth around heads that impede water delivery, compaction and run-off.
- Adjust heads as landscape plants grow larger and begin to block the spray pattern. New installations of benches, decks, etc., also can decrease irrigation efficiency.
- During hot weather, run your sprinklers 5 to 10 minutes per zone to cool the turf and reduce stress. This is called syringing, and it reduces the symptoms of summer patch disease.
- Create water zones by putting plants with similar water needs together. Ornamental plants can be grouped into low, moderate and high water users. Each zone of plants can be irrigated according to its needs.
- Focus on growing drought-tolerant plants. Once established, a number of beautiful plants, native and non-native, can survive with less than an inch of water a week.
- Keep weeds out of flower and vegetable gardens. Weeds steal water away from other plants.
- Adjust sprinklers to aim water directly at plants rather than sidewalks, paths, driveways, or fences. Use sprinklers that emit large droplets, again to reduce losses due to evaporation.
- On automatic sprinkler systems, install a moisture sensor--a probe placed in the ground that determines when the soil needs water and turns on the sprinkler.
- Install drip-irrigation systems and soaker hoses in flower and vegetable gardens, around trees and shrubs, and containers.
- Mulch to slow evaporation of moisture from the soil and keep the soil cool. Mulches should be applied no deeper than 3-4 inches. Excessively deep mulches will stimulate root growth in the mulch layer. These roots are more likely to experience winter and drought injury than those growing in soil. Stay with organic mulches, which slowly break down and add organic matter to the soil.
- Capture and recycle rainwater by placing barrels or buckets beneath your downspouts. Use it to water your lawn and landscape plants.
- Check hose connections for leaks, and repair them quickly. When you use a hose, attach a hose nozzle that can be shut off when not in use. A single hose left on uses nearly 300 gallons of water an hour.
- In hot, dry weather, use a broom instead of water to clean patios, sidewalks and driveways.
- Know your soil's water needs. Clay soils require slow watering. They dry out slowly and need infrequent watering. Sandy soils dry out quickly and require more frequent watering.
- Improve the soil to hold more water and oxygen by adding organic matter. Mix grass clippings and leaves into flower beds, vegetable gardens or newly-worked soil. Start a compost pile to recycle yard waste back to the garden.
- Reduce fertilization unless you're applying enough water to keep plants growing vigorously. Heavy fertilizer applications make lawns require more water or the high salts may burn plants.
Questions? Call the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, 444.7804.
Indoor Wise Water Use
- Inspect all pipes and faucets for leaks. Make necessary repairs. If every household in America had a faucet that dripped once each second, we would waste 928 million gallons of water a day or enough to fill 7.5 billion 8 oz. glasses.
- Check toilets for hidden leaks. Tank-to-bowl leaks can waste about a quart of water with each flush. Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Wait 15 minutes. If the color appears in the bowl, you have a leak. Make necessary repairs.