Lawn Maintenance

Proper Irrigation and Lawn Maintenance

Which irrigation systems work best?
Among hose-end attachments, impact sprinklers, which spin slowly around or from side to side, apply water at a slower rate than oscillating sprinklers, which roll back and forth, and therefore lose less to evaporation.

Among in-ground clock-controlled systems, rotor spray heads, which rotate as they spray a jet of water, are more efficient than pop-up sprinklers which can spray up to 4 times more water than some lawns can absorb, leading to run-off and water waste.

How much water do my plants need?

  • Use Denver Water's Run-time Scheduler to determine the exact watering duration for different irrigation zones.
  • Mature fruit trees respond to deep watering; saturate the soil to a depth of 2-3 feet.
    • Mulches will help conserve moisture. Use organic mulch, such as straw or bark chips, 6 inches thick; keep the mulch away from the tree trunk to lessen crown rot.
  • Learn about different types of turf grass and their water needs

How can I reduce the amount of water I use for irrigation?

  • Water deeply but not frequently. Do not overwater. Too much water can contribute to disease problems, runoff issues and leaching of nutrients. It's also a big waste of water.
  • Use repeat cycle programming with pop-up heads to reduce runoff. Schedule each sprinkler to water for a portion of the time required, then "rest" while the water is soaking into the ground, then repeat.
  • Have different watering zones that require different amounts of water.
  • Consider installing a rain sensor which reduces water flow to the irrigation system during rainy weather.
  • Consider installing a wind sensor that will shut down your irrigation system when winds get too high.
  • Realign any heads that are spraying too high in the air, across pavement, or into the wrong zone.
  • Consider non-spray irrigation for your flower and shrub beds. This includes soaker hoses, sub-surface piping, and drip irrigation.
  • Add compost to your soil to increase its water retention.

Know the signs of drought stress: Watering plants less will make them more drought resistant. Learn to look for signs of drought stress in turf such as the grayish-green color and footprints that don't spring back. Irrigate only when you see these signs. Kentucky bluegrass has excellent long-term survivability under these conditions. 

Identify low input areas: Areas seldom seen might not need to be in pristine shape. Consider cutting back on irrigation through the summer months. Kentucky bluegrass does not 'die out' without summer irrigation - it simply goes dormant. 

Avoid planting until fall: All plants need more irrigation during establishment and during the hot months. Consider waiting until September or October to plant lawns, trees, or shrubs since you will be taking advantage of the fall rains and cooler temperatures. Planting in the fall will also reduce the severity of transplant shock.
Improve your irrigation efficiency

Learn about Colorado mountain gardening