Reno, Nevada has endured watering restrictions for some long years now. From my travels over the internet and over the literal geography of America and elsewhere, I see these same restrictions now applied to cities as diverse as Melbourne, Australia and, currently, Atlanta, Georgia. Obviously the reasons are an acute shortage enough of water to limit its usage in irrigating home landscapes.
Regarding lawn watering, most restrictions – world wide – have come to a point where watering is only allowed on 2 days a week. This is implemented in many different ways but the bottom line is that there are generally two 24 hour watering periods per week offered to those homes and businesses who are under the restrictions. In most areas, gardens devoted to food are exempt. The return on people eating their own food is found to far outweigh the restrictive policies of doing totally without water, nor do these gardens take up anywhere near the amounts of water used for lawns and landscapes. Omitting food gardens seems to me to be the height of wisdom.
Nor, for that matter, should those who are not under watering restrictions ignore the fact that proper watering technique is worthwhile. Far from it. Wasting water is a luxury of the past and we now realize it is a world-wide concern. Your water bill will tell you as much, if nothing else. By adhering to some simple principles, in any case, even those without restrictions from their particular city can gain immeasurably by following some standard industry standards.
What is required in all cases of watering lawns and, say shrubbery or trees, is a watering that penetrates the earth down to the lowest level of root extension beneath the soil. This is commonly referred to as “deep watering”. The lowest layers of roots are the ones which generally are the most important. Where roots have expanded, they consume the available minerals and organic products and move onwards, looking for more. Water is the essential ingredient in maintaining the growth of roots. Water allows those roots to transmit the beneficial products up into the plant itself in a very similar fashion to that of our human blood supply. By transmitting the needed phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium upwards, we find robust plants, strong in every way, including grasses. Minerals – which are as vital – get transmitted in much the same way as grains and then broken down further up the plant.
Thus, trees, shrubs, flowers and grass all share a similar need, down at their lowest rooting levels. What has been found is that the deeper waterings which can penetrate any number of feet below, serve this end perfectly. Indeed, watering below the strata of roots may even provide water for a longer period owing to the rising nature of evaporation in general. So, deeper watering can not only mean that fewer waterings can serve the same purpose, but actually may even be better in the last analysis. Much research has gone into this style of watering and many businesses have opted for fewer watering days – just more intensely – as a result. The science actually says this may be a superior form of watering as opposed to daily and shallower waterings.
While the jury may be out on whether these restrictions are actually superior modes of watering – and, yes, there is a school of thought that advocates it – the fact remains that it is not a disaster at all. Living with restrictions can be a simple process of understanding what occurs under the surface of our soils and living withing the parameters offered.