Six things everyone should know about watering efficiently
Apply only enough water to moisten the root zone of your plants (6 to 8 inches deep), then allow the soil to dry before watering again. This means: In clay soils, water no more than one inch per week. This is enough to moisten your plants' roots. In thin Hill Country soils, apply a maximum of ½ inch of water twice a week. See recommended water schedule.
Water when the sun is down. No sun and less wind means that the water reaches the roots of your plants rather than evaporating before it hits the ground.
Use low-angle sprinklers that produce droplets of water. Sprinklers that spray water high into the air or produce a mist lose water through evaporation.
Use multiple start times or a "cycle and soak" feature. This allows water to be applied a little at a time, eliminating run-off, and is especially helpful for sloped areas and areas with clay soil.
Aim before you shoot: Direct sprinklers toward your lawn and away from sidewalks and driveways.
Use drip irrigation for shrub beds, gardens and trees. Drip irrigation systems apply water directly to the root, where it does the most good, and reduces water loss from evaporation. Make sure you slow the flow so the water has time to soak into our region's tight clay and caliche soils —instead of running off.
(Left) DO use a drip irrigation or soaker hose to water shrubs and trees. (Above) DON'T operate an automated irrigation system with broken sprinkler heads; it will waste water and cost you money.
What is hydrozoning? It is the practice of separating beds and turfs that have separate water needs into different zones. This allows for you to consider not only the different water needs of plants, but also differences in sunny and shaded areas.
How to: Automated irrigation systems
Hire a licensed irrigator if you decide to install a watering system. The irrigator should be familiar with hydrozoning (see box at right) and the most water-efficient irrigation technology. Want to find out whether the irrigator is licensed? Use the search tool from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Use a rain sensor . Wireless rain sensors are a convenient way to save up to 30 percent on outdoor watering by automatically turning off your system when it rains. Be sure to place your rain sensor in an open area.
Change your watering schedule seasonally. Your yard requires less supplemental irrigation during cool and wet seasons. Visit your controller box at least four times a year to adjust your schedule.
Set your controller to start watering sometime between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.
For more information about your particular irrigation controller, you can download the instruction manual from the manufacturer's Web site. Here are some links to controller manuals for several common irrigation systems: