Fort Collins residents can get free sprinkler system audit

It looks like it could be another dry summer. There are some things you can do to ensure that your lawn and gardens get the water they need:

• If you have a sprinkler system for your lawn, first inspect your entire system. Over the fall and winter small problems may have developed, such as clogs, leaks and misalignment of heads.

By Marc Vargas
Colorado State University Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County

• Think about getting a water audit. This will tell you the efficiency of each zone and will give you an idea of how much water you’re applying. Studies have shown that having a sprinkler audit may result in an average of 40 percent annual landscape water savings. If you’re a Fort Collins Utilities or Loveland-Fort Collins Water District member, you qualify for a free sprinkler system audit. For more information, call 970-416-2666 and leave your name, address, phone number and email address. Audits will be scheduled starting in June, but it’s first-come, first-served, so sign up early!

Remember to use water-wise principles whenever you water, and consider doing the following:

• Aeration is a primary tool to increase water infiltration. It is recommended that you aerate your lawn both in spring and fall-especially those with a lot of traffic (children and dogs), compacted, clayey soils and slopes. Be kind to your turf and poke it full of holes.

• Water deeply and infrequently to develop a deep root system that gives the plants more resilience in hot, dry weather.

• Water at night or in the early morning. To reduce water loss from evaporation, irrigate between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. (Note: Some cities experience peak water use from 4 to 6 a.m. as automatic sprinkler systems come on. To help the community avoid spikes in water demand, bump back your irrigation start time to earlier in the morning.)

• If watering on a slope use the “soak and cycle” method. Apply about one quarter-inch per cycle, with two or three total cycles to apply one-half-inch to three-quarters-inch of water per irrigation. Wait an hour between soakings then water again. This will result in less water runoff.

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