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1. Ask a Desert Gardener, Jun 2024

Ask A Desert Gardener, June 2024

Now that we are into the “summer” watering schedule, one of the most important questions facing the desert gardener is “how to properly irrigate while also trying to conserve the dwindling water supply! Remember, just because we are permitted to water six days each week, it doesn’t mean that we should or need to!

The irrigation systems that were initially installed when many of our homes were built may now be in need of upgrades or major overhauls.  The average irrigation system in Las Vegas has a lifespan of approximately 20 years. Under our landscapes, irrigation tubing is subjected to high temperatures, and high deposits of alkali salts that can lead to deterioration, leaks and malfunctioning. Therefore, we must diligently check the emitters for damage, leaks and salt buildup that can affect our systems. You can check for leaks by looking for excessive wet spots on the ground, or water runoffs onto the street. If emitters are clogged, remove a group of emitters and soak in a solution of vinegar/water overnight. This will remove alkali deposits and the emitter will run properly.  Continue this process throughout the property.

The size of your plants/trees/bushes has increased and their root systems have extended. Therefore, your irrigation system needs to spread out and water usage increased. Since all emitters are labeled with the hourly water discharge in gallons (1/2-5gph) you may need to add additional emitters and/or replace with higher capacity drips. 

In addition, take steps to foster efficient water usage. Do not water after recent rainfall. Irrigate before the sunup and after sunset to reduce evaporation. Add organic mulch around plants to prevent evaporation and lower soil temperature. Choose drought tolerant plants when updating your landscape. Position emitters under the canopies of large bushes, plants, and trees where the active roots are located. Fertilize your landscape in early spring and fall to encourage strong root systems.

Suggested Summer Watering Schedule :

Non-Native Plants: twice a day for ½ hour, Native Plants: 15-20 minutes, 1-2 days per week, Cactus, Yucca and Agave: 1 time a week for 5-10 minutes

Have a Question? Contact me:

Howard Galin is a University of Nevada certified Master Gardener and the Chair of the SCA Garden Club House Call Program.