Summer is coming early to Boise. As temperatures reach near the 100s in the first week of June, property owners & landscape professionals must adjust sprinkler systems to replenish water loss in plants & soil. It’s called “evapotranspiration,” the combination of water evaporating from soil & plant transpiration. “ET” rates increase with temperatures & sun exposure, meaning you have to replace water more frequently. While you should adjust your sprinkler system before the heat arrives, avoid these 4 common mistakes:
- Overwatering – if a little water is good, a lot of water is great, right? Nope. Too much water can stress or kill a plant as quickly as too little. Soil should be consistently moist but not saturated to a depth of 6″-8″.
- Misdiagnosis – are those yellow spots caused by drought or something else? Billbugs, necrotic ring spot, & other lawn issues look similar to drought. Ascochyta leaf blight is also closely related to drought. A simple way to tell is to dig into the soil. Again, it should be moist 6″-8″ deep. Any less is not enough water in the heat of summer.
- Assuming heads/nozzles are covering well – most systems are not installed with efficiency in mind. Also, components age with time, plants grow & affect coverage, & heads settle. Even if everything was perfectly adjusted upon activating your system in the spring, you should check coverage at least every 2-4 weeks during the summer.
- Underestimating the role soil composition plays – heavy clay soil affects water flow & root development. It’s often best to break up cycles, applying half of the water during one run, letting it soak in for a few hours, & applying the second half during a later time. This reduces runoff & pooling.
As the heat arrives, slather on the sun screen, crank up the A/C, & keep the landscape well hydrated!