Saving Water Outdoors
Peaking in Summer
Summertime activities such as lawn watering create the peak water use season. The rule of water supply is to build the system with enough capacity to meet the highest demand you'd expect. The highest demand that occurs in summer is 50% to 80% higher than the average demand throughout the year, primarily due to lawn watering. In order to avoid a disruption of water supply in summer, we must keep a large supply of water on hand, even though we only need it for a few days in the summer. You can help by adopting the practices detailed below.
- Efficient Lawn Watering
- How to Gauge Your Lawn Watering
- Odd-Even Day Lawn Watering
- Sprinkler timers
Grass in our climate, requires only 2.5 cm. or 1" of water per week, including rainfall to remain healthy. Yet, lawn watering consumes a significant portion of the water we supply. Moderate lawn watering is equally important to the health of your lawn. Too much water or fertilizer can cause your lawn to grow beyond the limits of the soil. It can also lead to shallow roots and a lawn unable to cope with hot dry weather. Remember, just 2.5 and your lawn will THRIVE! Just ask an inch worm.
Durham provides FREE rain gauges so residents can measure the amount of water their lawn receives from watering and rainfall.
Get your FREE rain gauge at the following distributors from May to September:
Retail / Municipal Rain Gauge Distributors
588 Lakeridge Rd.
85 Chambers Drive
Rekker Garden Gallery
2258 Hwy. 2, Maple Grove
275 Toronto Street, Newcastle
1 Cameron St. E.
1460 Taunton Road East
DLS Garden Centre
935 Bloor Street East
Pickering Civic Centre
1 The Esplanade
Pine Ridge Garden Gallery
2215 Brock Rd. N.
Scugog Township Offices
181 Perry St.
Greenbank Garden Centre
19251 Hwy. 12
Mason Hogue Gardens
3520 Durham Rd. #1
378 Hwy. 47, Goodwood
605 Rossland Rd. E., 5th Floor
410 Taunton Rd. W.
With over 20,000 gauges distributed each summer, the broad acceptance of rain gauges shows that people recognize the connection between improved lawn health and moderating lawn watering. This is especially important when summers are hotter and drier than average. By watering your lawn moderately, it will be healthier, growing deeper roots and retaining more nutrients. Turf experts recommend a maximum of 1" (2.5 cm) of water including rainfall per week.
The high quality gauges (Canadian designed and manufactured) are distributed through 13 garden centres and municipal offices via countertop dispensers. Gauges are packaged with a fridge magnet and how-to card.
Using a rain gauge to limit lawn watering not only improves your lawn's health, it helps Durham Region manage the a summertime increase in water use that exceeds 50%. Thank you for making the rain gauge program a success and for practicing 1" per week.
Odd-even day lawn watering is mandatory during the months of May through September under the Regional Water System Bylaw adopted by Council in July 1997.
Odd-even day lawn watering means you should water only on odd calendar days if your house number is an odd number, or, if your house number is even, water only on even calendar days. Durham Residents have done a great job of practising odd-even day lawn watering. Thank you for helping to keep the summer peak down.
Grasscycling is an easy way to feed your lawn. It saves you time, and it helps the environment. The clippings provide valuable nutrients to your lawn, and by helping to retain moisture, they reduce the need for watering. It's easier because there is no time spent raking and bagging, and therefore, you're helping the environment by not sending bagged clippings to the landfill. You should mow your grass when it's dry, and cut no more that 1/3 off the top at each cutting. The ideal height for a lawn is 2 to 3 inches.
Too much fertilizer can cause your lawn to grow beyond the limits of the soil and the available water. It can also lead to shallow roots and a lawn unable to cope with hot dry weather. Your lawn should be fertilized twice per year; in Fall and Spring. For your Fall application, choose a fertilizer with a low nitrogen level (for example 9-9-9). Although blade or top growth of the grass appears to have stopped, the roots are actively growing right into freeze up. Fertilizing in Fall keeps your lawn healthy through its dormant winter period by building up its root system. The second application in early Spring is to stimulate blade growth. For your Spring fertilizer application, choose a higher level of nitrogen (for example 15-9-9). The first number is the percentage of nitrogen. A lawn fertilized twice a year can have deeper roots, denser growth and greater resistance to weeds, disease and hot weather stress.
Sprinkler timers can save you time and money. The best time to water your lawn and garden is in early morning, before the sun gets too hot. Setting up a sprinkler timer can allow you to water at the optimum time, even if you're not home. And their simple on and off features allow for ease of use. Use a small container as a rain gauge to determine how long your sprinkler takes to provide 2.5 cm of water. You can then set the timer for that amount of time. Use a sprinkler that sprays low and delivers large droplets. The higher the spray, the more water lost to evaporation.