For up-to-date yard watering recommendations based on the Texas Agricultural Extension local weather station, click here. The following information is courtesy of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
When to Water
Ideally, a lawn should be watered just before it begins to wilt. Most grasses take on a dull purplish cast and leaf blades begin to fold or roll. Grass under drought stress also shows evidence of tracks after someone walks across the lawn. Common bermuda grass lawns can go 5 to 7 days or longer between waterings without loss of quality.
Early morning is considered the best time to water. The wind is usually calm and the temperature is low so less water is lost to evaporation. The worst time to water is late evening because the lawn stays wet all night, making it more susceptible to disease.
How Much Water Does It Take?
It takes about 1/2 inch of water to achieve the desired wetting depth if the soil is high in sand, and about 3/4 inch of water if the soil is a loam. For soils high in clay, an inch of water is usually necessary to wet the soil to the desired depth. If waterings are too light or too frequent the lawn may become weak and shallow-rooted, which in turn makes it more susceptible to stress injury.
Use the following steps to determine the amount of water your sprinkler or sprinkler system puts out and check its distribution pattern at the same time. Determine the rate at which your sprinkler applies water to the lawn.
- Set out three to five empty cans in a straight line going away from the sprinkler. Set the last can near the edge of the sprinkler's coverage.
- Run the sprinkler for a set time such as 1/2 hour and then measure the amount of water in each can.
- Each can will contain a different amount of water. Usually, the can closest to the sprinkler will have the most water. The sprinkler pattern must overlap to get an even wetness of the soil. Use this information to find out how long it takes your sprinkler to apply 1 inch of water. For example, if you find that most cans contain about 1/4 inch of water after the sprinkler runs 1/2 hour, it would take 4 x 1/2 or 2 hours to apply 1 inch.
Run the sprinkler or sprinkler system long enough to apply at least 1 inch of water or until runoff occurs. If runoff occurs first:
- Stop sprinkler and note running time.
- Allow water to soak in for 1/2 hour.
- Start sprinkler and if runoff occurs, repeat above steps until at least 1 inch of water has been applied and allowed to soak into the soil.
Do not water again until the lawn has completely dried out. (This usually takes 5 or 6 days.)
- Apply enough water to wet the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.
- Avoid frequent light applications of water.
- Water in early daylight hours.
- Select a turf grass with a low water requirement.
- Avoid using soluble nitrogen fertilizers. (They promote high growth rates which, in turn, increase water requirements of the plant.)
For Home and Office
Install low-flow shower heads. They use 30 to 70 percent less water while still providing invigorating showers. Toilet water use can be cut by up to 70% by installing low-flow or air assisted commodes. If you can't replace your toilet, place a half-gallon plastic jug of water or a toilet dam in your tank. (Don't use bricks - they fall apart.) Install low-flow faucet aerators on the bathroom and kitchen sinks. These use about half as much water without compromising performance. Sing shorter songs in the shower. Your shower shouldn't last longer than five minutes. Sing all you want when you take a bath - just be sure to fill the tub halfway. Turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth or shaving. When washing your car, use a cutoff nozzle instead of running the hose continuously.
About 8% of home water use takes place in the kitchen. Instead of running water, rinse dishes in a basin and soak pots and pans before scrubbing. Compost your fruit and vegetable scraps to avoid running the garbage disposal. Be sure your dishwasher is full before you run it. Next time you buy a dishwasher, consider the water-saving model which can cut water use by 25%.
Laundry accounts for about 14% of home water usage. Adjust the water level on your washing machine to match the size of your load. If you can't set the level on your machine, be sure to wash only full loads. Consider buying a water-saving model, which reduces water use by up to 30%. Avoid having to run the water until it's hot. Insulate your water heater and hot water pipes.
Repair all plumbing leaks immediately. A dripping faucet can waste up to 2 gallons of water per hour. Check your toilet by dropping a small amount of food coloring into the tank. If colored water appears in the bowl after 10 minutes, you've got a leak that needs repairing.
Quick Tips to Conserve Water at Home and Work
DO . . . Fill your glass halfway when you get a drink of water. Use a cup when you drink from a fountain. Save the water from boiling spaghetti, noodles or potatoes to water plants. Kids, hand wash stuffed animals by taking them in the tub with you when you take a bath.
DON'T . . . use the toilet as a wastebasket and don't flush unnecessarily . . . water your sidewalk or driveway--sweep them clean . . . over-water your plants or your lawn . . . let the water run while washing dishes (Kitchen faucets use 2 to 3 gallons a minute! Filling a basin only takes 10 gallons to wash and rinse.) . . . run water to make it cold, keep it chilled in the refrigerator & ready to drink.