Lawn Irrigation Tips

Did you know that irrigation accounts for over 50% of the water used by the average home in McMinnville? McMinnville Water & Light encourages our customers to apply outdoor water conservation practices during the peak summer season. Here are some tips to reduce outdoor water use:

    • Water in the late evening or early morning.
    • A lawn in good condition only needs 1” of water per week in the summer. Use a 1” deep tuna can to measure the output of your sprinklers. Place several around the yard and see how long they take to fill. Buy a timer to attach to your garden hose and water 2-3 times a week to come up to this total.
    • The longer you can wait to start watering before summer, the deeper the lawn root system grows and will then require less water later.
    • Use timers to avoid overwatering.
    • Plant native or water-wise species of plants.
    • Maintain grass at about 2 ½ inches and don’t cut more than 1/3 of the blade length at a time. Thick lawns need less water, have deeper roots and crowd out weeds.
    • Do not use fine-mist sprinklers, as most water will be lost to evaporation.
    • De-thatch and aerate to promote lawn growth and water penetration and reduce run-off.
    • Avoid over fertilization, 2-3 light applications per year are sufficient, otherwise too much salt is added to the soil requiring the grass to absorb more water. Use fertilizers with high potassium and phosphorus to encourage root growth.
    • If you are planning an irrigation system, place heads at 50% of their throw diameter. E.g. sprinkler heads with a 24-foot throw should be placed every 12 feet for even coverage.
    • Mulch beds so there is 2” of mulch over all bare soil.
    • Shrubs and other ground cover require 40-60% of what the lawn needs. Use soaker hoses for deep root watering. Also drip systems are good for trees and shrubs.
    • Use a hose nozzle that automatically shuts off when released.
    • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk.

For details on waterwise gardening, visit the Oregon State University Extension Service website.