Smart summer irrigation in 2021

The US Drought Monitor map released on June 10, 2021 shows much of the West ranging from extreme drought to exceptional drought. Lake Mead has fallen to its lowest level since filling in 1937, which may require reduced water supplies for Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico in 2022.

Locally, if you check your water agency’s website, you will find links to information on water efficiency and wise use. Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) provides information on water use efficiency legislation and an introduction to the Landowner Resilience Program with a toolkit including climate-friendly landscaping here.

We are approaching July – the smart irrigation month – when the evaporation rate is highest in the foothills and the month when our plants typically use the most water.

Celebrate “Smart Irrigation Month” by using some of the watering tips from the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program,

Reduce the water requirement of your landscape. Choose water efficient plants and gardens.

Avoid plant grass species that require frequent watering, such as bluegrass or ryegrass. Try one of the newer varieties of bison grass that can be watered as little as twice a month. Water only when your lawn needs water, more deeply and less frequently.

Urban slime is not cool. Do not allow your sprinklers / sprayers to produce a runoff. Adjust the direction of the sprinkler heads; replace broken heads and leaky valves.

Reduce on the fertilizer. The more you fertilize, the more water your plants need to maintain this excess growth. Many non-flowering trees and shrubs NEVER need fertilizer.

Trees Speaking of trees, never wet a tree trunk when irrigating. Water deeply around the drip line. Most established trees and shrubs only need watering once a month.

Water early in the morning or late at night to reduce evaporation.

Mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch! A layer of mulch on the ground reduces evaporation, conserves water, stabilizes soil temperature and suppresses weeds.

Plant abundantly. There is a reason why Native Americans planted the Three Sisters of Corn, Beans, and Squash. These large squash leaves shade the soil, retain valuable water, and reduce evaporation.

Watering Improve watering efficiency and distribution by using drip irrigation and soak hoses to draw water only where it is needed.

Rebecca Miller-Cripps is a master gardener at the University of California Tuolumne County Cooperative Extension who was amazed when she first saw large stands of broom in the Santa Cruz Mountains in years 1970.

The UCCE master gardeners in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties can answer questions about home gardening. Call 209-533-5912 or complete our easy-to-use problem questionnaire here. Visit our website here. You can also find us on Facebook.

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