Often, natural occurring rainfall is enough to sustain a lawn, but stretches of drought or hot dry weather can turn grass brown. If you choose irrigation to keep grass green, your lawn should receive the equivalent of 1 inch of water per week.

To determine how long it takes for an inch of water to be dispensed by your sprinkler, set a group of straight-sided containers, such as quart jars or coffee cans, at 5- and 10- foot intervals away from the sprinkler base. Use the average amount of water collected in the containers during 30 minutes to determine the amount of water the sprinkler is providing. For example, if you collect ¼ inch of water in the containers in a half hour, you'll need to leave the sprinkler in that area for 2 hours to assure an inch of water.

Minimize evaporation by watering early in the morning. Late afternoon or evening watering can lead to disease, as the leaves won't have time to dry. If you see water running off your lawn before you have watered an inch, divide watering time into two sessions. Wait a day or two for the soil to absorb the water before applying the second application. In areas of extreme drought, you can let your lawn go dormant for 2-3 months without any water, and the grass will revive once watering resumes.

Watering tips for the garden

A heavy watering when it's needed will do much more good than several frequent, light applications of water. As with the lawn, try to water early in the day, and aim for an inch per week of water. Make sure the water is getting down to the root zone. After watering, dig down near the plant to see how far the water has reached. This will help you determine how much water each plant is receiving, and whether your watering is adequate. Make sure that the foliage is dry when sunset comes, and diseases will be minimized. A soaker hose may be used for a continual slow irrigation, which is helpful used under mulches. In areas where water usage can be expensive or limited, many people are turning to rain barrels. These containers divert rainwater from the downspout and store it until you need it. Two or more of these can link together for higher water storage capacity, and they come with a shut off valve so you can hook up your hose or soaker hose and direct the water straight to your garden. Another water-saving tip is use the water collected in your basement dehumidifiers. Water from rain barrels and dehumidifiers does not contain the chlorine found in treated water, which is better for your plants.

Here are 3 quick watering tips that will keep your garden healthy and conserve water at the same time.

Use a soaker hose

Rather than spraying plants with a typical hose or watering can, which deliver large amounts of water in a short time, soaker hoses water plants slowly over time. This reduces water loss from over-spray and evaporation and allows the roots of the plants to access more water. These methods require less water and result in healthier plants because they keep the leaves dry. They also happen to be pretty convenient.

Water in the morning

While it might seem like your plants need water the most during the middle of the day, when the sun is the hottest, this is actually the least effective time to water. It is a myth that midday watering will scorch your plants (in almost all climates in the world), but the hot sun will evaporate much of your precious water before the plants can take advantage. Watering your garden in the early morning will minimize the loss of water from evaporation. If early morning does not fit your schedule, late afternoon is the next best option. Watering too late in the evening doesn't allow the leaves to dry, which makes them susceptible to fungus problems.

Use a rain barrel

One of the best ways to minimize your water use is to utilize a rain barrel or other water-catching device. You can incorporate rain barrels into your gutter system to capture the gallons running off your roof and redirect it to your garden. There are many styles of rain barrel available, some decorative and some functional, and they all allow you to make the most of the water at your home.

While watering habits vary as widely as the gardens themselves, it shouldn't be difficult to include a few water conservation ideas into your setup. It is better for the environment and your monthly water bill.

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