Three Easy Steps to Keeping Your Landscape Plants Happy

January 24, 2014

Winter weather watchers are seeing all kinds of interesting conditions across the country right now, including a lot of snow in the Midwest and Northeast. But here in the desert Southwest, the forecast has been dry and parched! And yet, January is typically part of our winter rainy season with an average of one inch of rain throughout the month. While dry conditions work out well for outdoor activities during our 60 to 70-degree winter days, it also means that our desert plants or landscapes aren’t getting water. If your shrubs are looking like tumbleweeds (and you didn’t plant tumbleweeds), see our three easy steps to watering your landscape:

1. Spend some quality time with your plants

Depending on the size and type of the plant (tree, shrub, or groundcover), you will need to water different amounts. A large tree needs more water than a small groundcover and a desert tree needs water less often than a citrus tree. Get all the answers in our Landscape Watering by the Numbers: A Guide for the Arizona Desert.

2. Get outside

Your landscape water needs are impacted greatly by weather conditions. The temperature, humidity and rainfall are all big factors. But so is wind, day length and even how much sunshine is peaking through the clouds (or if there are any clouds).  That’s why it is important to adjust your watering schedule at least seasonally, since plants can use 3 to 5 times more water during the hot, dry summer as they do during the winter.

3. Get with the program!

We’re talking about the program on your irrigation timer or clock! It’s been found that not changing your timer with the season is one of the top ways water gets wasted outdoors. New technology does offer “smart” controllers that adjust themselves for the weather.  But if you don’t have one of those,  the City of Mesa has developed a monthly email alert to help remind you of the watering frequency throughout the year. Once a month, we’ll send you an email with watering recommendations for our specific weather conditions. We’ll even send you a reminder when there’s been enough rain that you can turn your timer to the ‘rain’ or ‘off’ setting. Visit our How to Program Your Irrigation Controller instructions.

Being informed on seasonal watering not only keeps your plants healthy and happy, but it also conserves up to 50% of your outdoor water use (and money!). To register for the watering reminder, visit the City of Mesa home page, select Email Alerts from the right navigation bar, then choose Landscape Watering Reminder and follow the registration instructions.

Donna DiFrancesco is a Conservation Coordinator and Emmery Wegener is a Sustainability Intern with the City of Mesa, AZ, one of 20 Water – Use It Wisely partners to offer water-saving advice and programs.