It has already been a hot and dry August in Calgary, and the forecast doesn’t call for any significant amount of moisture for at least another week. This prolonged dry spell has the potential to cause a massive uptick in the use of water in the city.
As landscaping professionals, we are amending our watering habits to help assist in saving time and resources while also reducing waste. These are some of the tips and techniques we provide to our residential and commercial property owners for targeting water use towards the areas it is most needed.
Continue to use your underground irrigation early in the day
If you actually don’t mind higher water bills, and many are willing to take the hit for the sake of their gardens, continue to water before 10 a.m. and set your sprinklers to go off for a longer duration and with greater frequency. To save on water, pay close attention to your zones. Test moisture levels several times a day to find out where the soil is staying wet and where it is drying out quickly. Then, adjust the watering time per zone accordingly. This is good practice throughout the summer, as you can set your irrigation timer to have options readily available for several different weather circumstances as well as the shortening or lengthening of days, and so on.
Consider allowing your lawn to go dormant
It’s a case of aesthetics, but you may have noticed several publicly owned areas around Calgary are already looking a little yellow and shaggy. This is a deliberate choice being made to save on water while sacrificing looks.
When grass turns yellow, it is not dead. It is dormant. Dormancy is the way the grass protects itself by concentrating its energy towards keeping its root system alive. Your lawn will eventually come back with more moisture, but you do need to keep an eye out for patches turning grey. This is a sign your grass actually is dead, and those areas may need to be re-seeded.
Try to keep people off your lawn while it is dormant, as too much foot traffic can cause damage.
If you do grow, keep the grass longer
Lawnmower blades should be risen to the highest setting of about 4 to 5 inches during a dry spell. This will help you save on water as the taller blades will shade the shorter blades and the soil, preventing the rapid evaporation of moisture.
Hold off fertilizing
If you are not watering your lawn, you definitely do not want to fertilize. The nutrients won‘t get down into the root system and the fertilizer may burn your delicate blades. You also don’t want to encourage growth when your grass is in survival mode, as that will just waste your lawn’s energy.
If you do decide to fertilize, water heavily before the fertilizer is applied to ensure the soil is moist enough to absorb the nutrients. Follow the instructions closely and do not overwater afterwards, as the runoff will contain chemicals from the fertilizer that could contaminate drinking water.
Target water your pots and plants
Use your hose’s soaker attachment rather than the spray when watering your pots and perennials to directly target water where it is most needed. Some pots may need watering twice a day, but if you are patient and take the time to tend to each plant directly, you should be able to save on water overall.
As always, keeping your garden plants nestled in a well is ideal for effective watering. Even though it’s hot, it’s worth it to do a little digging to ensure water will be directed straight to the roots. Morning is always the best time. Watering at night can introduce diseases and encourage fungus growth.
Shrubs and trees also need a good soak. It seems counter-intuitive, but turning your hose attachment on to trickle and leaving it next to a tree’s root ball is actually the most effective way to water … provided the tree is situated in a proper well, that is.
Herb and vegetable gardens need extra TLC
You won’t be able to avoid watering your vegetable gardens. Producing vegetables takes a lot of energy, and that energy needs a lot of water. If your vegetable gardens are very exposed, shelter them with some sort of shade for at least part of the day. Umbrellas can work, as can blankets placed on stakes. Local gardens centres carry several options for garden shades to suit many needs.
Help prevent fires
It should go without saying, but Calgarians should avoid using their fire pits for the foreseeable future. Any sort of open blaze or high heat is very dangerous, which also means that barbecues should be used with great caution and turned off immediately after use.
Mirage Landscaping provides underground irrigation installation services
Underground irrigation is by far the best way to save on time, money, and resources while also keeping your property green and healthy. The month of September is actually ideal for installation of an underground irrigation system, as everything will be perfectly ready for you to simply turn it on and go come spring.
If you already have an underground irrigation system, don’t forget to schedule your fall blow out with your service provider.
With over three generations of experience landscaping in Calgary, Mirage Landscaping’s commitment to individualized customer service has made us a leader in our industry, which is something we take great pride in. View our portfolio here, and contact us for a quote on your next outdoor project.