Rain Barrels are a simple, efficient, low cost method for homeowners to collect and recycle water by capturing rainwater at the end of your downspout. Rain barrels are available from the Conservation Foundation in Naperville. Visit the Conservation Foundation website for more information.
Lawn Watering Regulations for Plants in the Ground
Please visit Batavia's lawn watering regulations page for more information.
Water Conservation Guidelines
Watering your plants incorrectly can hurt them and waste your money, not to mention exacerbate pollution. These helpful guidelines can help keep your plants healthy.
- Slow, deep watering of plants at long intervals is better than watering often but lightly.
- A daily ritual of sprinkling flower beds with the hose in your hand makes plants grow short, weak, vulnerable roots right at the surface.
- A deep soak once a week encourages plants to send those roots long and strong down into the soil. This makes plants more drought-tolerant and more able to take up nutrients and support more leaves and flowers.
- Over watering can fill up the air space in soil and actually drown plants or cause roots to rot.
- Most plants need the equivalent of 1 inch of rain a week (about 0.6 gallon per square foot), but many factors can affect this. Desert plants, such as cacti, obviously need much less. Established prairie plants, with deep root systems, need less watering than shallow-rooted, thirsty annuals such as impatiens. Get to know your plants and their needs.
- Soil type makes a difference too. Water soaks right into sandy loam but easily runs off dense, clay soil. Observe how water behaves on your soil.
- To measure rain or the output of sprinklers, buy a rain gauge (starting at about $3 at the hardware store). You can even use 2; 1 for the lawn and 1 to place under trees, where much less rain reaches the ground.
- It is best to always know how much water should be in the soil. Stick your finger in the soil and feel for moisture (or dig down with a trowel). If it's dry 2 to 3 inches down then you should add water.
Soil dries out quickly in pots. Check them every morning. Much of the summer you may have to water them 1 or 2 times a day. Plastic or glazed containers lose water more slowly than unglazed terra cotta or moss baskets; small containers dry out fast. Self-watering containers, with hidden reservoirs, can help. Pots in sunny locations will need more watering.
Buy heavy duty metal nozzles with adjustable spray. Get a hose wand extension to water containers and hanging baskets.
Sprinklers have drawbacks. They water foliage, not soil; much of the water they fling through the air or dribble on leaves evaporates uselessly and they can rain water on sidewalks, patios and driveways, where it is wasted. However, sprinklers are the best way to distribute water over a large area.
- Water in the morning, so leaves dry in the sun.
- Wet foliage at night encourages fungus diseases.
- Have more than 1 sprinkler, so you can fit the watering pattern to different areas of your yard.
- A good assortment is an oscillating sprinkler, which waves back and forth over a rectangular area, such as a lawn; an impulse sprinkler, which flings water in a wide circle or part of one; and a pattern sprinkler, which can deliver a steady stream in several arrangements in tight spots.
- If a sprinkler does not have one, add a shut-off valve between it and the hose so you easily can reduce the water pressure to the area you need to water.
- In-ground sprinkler systems: Get a moisture sensor that only turns on the sprinklers when the ground is dry. Otherwise, learn to adjust the timer and turn it on and off as needed.
- Don't just leave it at the installed settings regardless of conditions; that's a huge water waster.
In summer, you can save water by letting the lawn go dormant. (Many leaves will dry and turn brown but each plant's crown and roots remain alive, waiting for cooler weather.) Decide to either let lawn go dormant or not. Don't try to revive it with heavy watering when it goes brown. A long soak every 2 weeks, or a good rain, will keep the roots alive.
- To keep grass green, water deeply once a week but no more often then that. Too much watering, or watering at night, can lead to lawn diseases and grubs. Mow the lawn a good 3 inches high to conserve water and encourage long roots.
- Don't fertilize in summer. Over-fertilizing makes lawns weak and thirsty. Aerate the lawn every spring to help it absorb water.
Trees & Shrubs
New trees and shrubs, with struggling root systems, need watering for 1 year after they are planted. Turn the sprinkler on to just a dribble and set it on the root zone for several hours once a week. The following week, move it to a different spot.
Established trees and shrubs rarely need supplemental watering except in drought, when they are sick or stressed or if they have a restricted root zone - for example, hemmed in by house, path and driveway.
It's the roots that need the water, so the most efficient watering goes right to the soil. Soaker hoses are easy to set up; just lay them around in beds. All hoses must be taken indoors in winter. Drip irrigation is more finicky to set up, but can be left out in the winter. Start with a kit to get used to the parts and procedures.