Charles Phillips' phone started ringing Wednesday morning with calls from Columbia County residents worried about how to save their yards now that water restrictions are in force.
His advice: water deep.
"The deeper you water, the less you have to water," said Mr. Phillips, Columbia County's Extension Service coordinator. "The worst thing you can do for your grass is water it every other day, or every day."
You don't have to water that much, just do it the right way, he said. And if the county is forced to implement stricter restrictions later in the summer, you'll be better off, and your landscaping will have a good chance of surviving.
Outdoor watering restrictions kicked in Wednesday throughout Columbia County. The restrictions should not cause anyone to lose his lawn, Mr. Phillips said, because if a homeowner does it right, he'll need to water only once a week or so anyway.
Mr. Phillips suggests watering from 10 p.m. to about 7 a.m. With less wind and lower temperatures, more water will hit the ground.
"Our turf grasses, if you put an inch, inch and a half on it and it soaks in, you should only have to water that grass every six or seven days," he said.
Use cans set out around a yard to measure how much water a sprinkler head puts out.
It takes awhile for water to soak into clay soils. If the water starts running off before an inch has fallen, move the sprinkler to another part of the yard. After the water has soaked in, water that area again.
Don't water in the late afternoon or early evening, Mr. Phillips says. That promotes disease growth because moisture sits on the grass too long.
"The grass will tell you when it needs water," Mr. Phillips said. "It will start rolling up and getting a bluish-gray color to it. Or if you walk across your lawn and you look back 10 or 15 feet behind you and you still see your footprints in the grass, it's getting time to water."
The key to saving shrubs and flowers is to water deep and mulch well, he said.
Shrubs and flowers also need about an inch or an inch and a half of water a week, he said.
All mulches are good, and mature trees need about an inch of water a week, he said. Newly planted shrubs and trees should be kept moist, probably watering some every day.
Flower beds, too, need about an inch to an inch and a half of water a week, if they're mulched well and drain properly.
New sod and grass need to be kept moist, watering some every day. Mr. Phillips said people with new sod should contact the county to work out arrangements for watering more than allowed.
Reach Jennifer Miller at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All outdoor watering is banned on Mondays.
Residents and businesses using an underground sprinkler system or more than one sprinkler connected to a hose are restricted to watering on certain days.
Even-numbered addresses may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; while odd-numbered addresses may water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Watering with a single sprinkler head attached to a hose is allowed any day but Monday.