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Watering tips

Summer watering tips

An important part of a healthy, beautiful landscape is efficient watering for the appropriate season.

  • From May 1 through Aug. 31, landscape watering is prohibited from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Sprinkler watering is prohibited on Sunday.
  • The impulse to increase landscape watering is strong when temperatures start getting hotter, but grass, trees and plants actually don't need as much water as we sometimes think. In May, while nights are still cool, gradually increase your sprinkler watering from three days to four. From there, keep an eye on your landscape and increase watering only as needed into June, July and August.
  • Plants or areas of lawn that show stress may be hand watered, as needed.
  • During summer, drip-irrigated landscapes need far less water than grass. You may only need to water plants and desert landscapes one or two days each week in summer. The length of watering depends upon the type of drip emitter.
  • Check your irrigation system for damage and leaks.
  • Turn your irrigation clock off on rainy days or invest in a smart irrigation clock.
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Not sure what the difference is between sprinklers and drip irrigation? You aren't alone.

When it comes to landscapes, watering isn't "one size fits all." How long and often you water your landscape depends largely on the type of plants, shrubs and irrigation components you have. It also varies by time of year.

Whether you have sprinklers or drip irrigation — or both — it's important to know the difference between them, how they work, and when to use them.

Drip watering

Drip irrigation is truly beneficial to plants in desert environments. Drip irrigation systems should run longer than sprinkler systems because they deliver water more slowly and efficiently.

However, be careful not to overwater your plants.

The length of each watering should be determined by the emitter flow rate, soil type, and weather conditions.

Experts agree that running drip irrigation less frequently is much better for plants than daily watering.

Sprinkler and drip irrigation—what's the difference?

It’s important to know the difference between sprinkler and drip irrigation. Get the breakdown on how each system works.

How often to water

Seasonal watering restrictions apply to customers with drip irrigation systems. While drip irrigation may occur any day of the week, the number of days is limited by season. 

Plants need far less water than grass. We recommend you run drip irrigation systems:

  • Twice a week in spring and fall
  • Every other day in the summer
  • Once a week or every other week in winter

How long to water

Determine the amount of time to water based on the rate of flow of your drip emitters.

Emitter type Length of each watering
High-flow emitter (Up to 20 gph) 20 - 40 minutes
Low-flow emitter (Up to 4 gph) 30 minutes
Low-flow emitter (Up to 2 gph) 60 minutes
Low-flow emitter (Up to 1 gph) 90 minutes

Rate of flow

To find out how fast your drip emitter produces water, measure how many seconds it takes to fill a tablespoon:

  • 14 seconds equals 1 gallon per hour (gph)
  • 7 seconds equals 2 gph
  • 4 seconds equals 4 gph

High-flow or low-flow? Don't know?

Low-flow: Beads on tip or drips slowly
High-flow: Streams like a water fountain
gph: Gallons per hour, often marked on the emitter head. There are many emitter types.

Designing and planning your drip system

A new plant may require only one emitter initially. As the plant grows, so does the demand for water. When a drip system is installed, it should be designed so it has the flexibility to change the amount of emitters and the location of the emitters in the landscape. Each emitter should give you at least a 30-minute run time without runoff. Trees may also need more drip irrigation adjustments as they mature.

Maintaining your drip system

Check your drip line periodically for breaks and check emitters for clogs or heads that have broken off. Ensure that each emitter is releasing the proper amount of water.

  • Hold your finger over the emitter's outlet for a few seconds, so that the water can flush back and clean the emitter to help unclog it.
  • Change the drip irrigation lines and filters at least twice a year, or whenever you change your irrigation schedule.
  • Find the "end cap" on your drip line. This should be at the furthest point from your valve box. Open the cap and briefly run the system to flush out any debris that could be clogging your line. Turn off the water before trying to recap your line.

Are your plants unhappy?

Are your plants drooping, wilting or looking like they are dying? It may be stress caused by a number of factors, including the soil, weather conditions or soil moisture.

  • If the soil is wet long after you’ve watered them, you may be over-watering. Try watering less often and/or for less time.
  • If the soil is consistently dry on your designated watering day, check that all of your emitters are working properly. If not, adjust or replace the emitters. If the emitters are working fine, try increasing the watering time or adding emitters near the stressed plants.

Sprinkler watering

The type of grass you have will determine how much water your lawn requires. Adding or removing one minute from a 4-minute sprinkler cycle, for example, will change the amount of water you use by 25 percent.

When to water

Water between midnight and sunrise from May to October to minimize water lost to evaporation. Water during the warmer part of the day during winter months to prevent water from freezing on your landscape.

Monitor how many minutes you can run your sprinkler system before water starts to run off the property. Stop the run cycle at that point. Allow the water to be fully absorbed before beginning the next cycle.

How to water grass

Our parched desert soil makes it tough for water to soak in very deep. That's why we suggest the cycle-and-soak method of irrigation.

How to water plants with drip irrigation

Drip irrigation is the perfect match for your plants, but running drip too many days a week is the biggest mistake most homeowners make.

Sprinkler tips

  • Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, require about one-third less water.
  • If you have rotating sprinklers, water for 12 minutes each watering, rather than 4 minutes.
  • Don't water when it's windy or rainy.
  • Water your lawn on a separate schedule from your plants, trees and shrubs.
  • Test, adjust and repair your sprinkler heads and drip emitters weekly in the summer and monthly in the winter.
  • Always check your sprinkler system for malfunctions after mowing.
  • Modify spray patterns from sprinkler heads by re-adjusting for better direction or installing variable arc nozzles.
  • Use an SNWA instant rebate coupon to replace your irrigation clock with a smart controller.
  • Replace your water-thirsty grass with a water-smart landscape and you may qualify for a rebate.