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7 Smart Irrigation Watering Tips

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We have been lucky, in terms of water, in Tuolumne County in 2018. Late snow and rain in March and April helped offset a dry early winter and temperatures have remained fairly mild so far this summer.

According to the Tuolumne Utilities District website: “…TUD’s surface water supply is exceptional this year and TUD is not currently facing drought restrictions…. The watershed upon which TUD relies resets itself each year and is entirely dependent on snowpack developing in the winter to supply water in the summer. The District encourages customers to use water wisely.”

The most important way to use water wisely is to recognize that, in California – with its dry summers – water conservation is a lifestyle. July is Smart Irrigation Month, for good reason. July is the month when the evaporation rate is highest in the foothills and the month when our plants typically use the most water.

Celebrate “Smart Irrigation Month” by using some of the watering tips from the University of California Integrated Pest Management program,

  • Reduce your landscape’s need for water.  Choose water-efficient plants and garden designs.
  • Avoid planting turf species that require frequent watering, such as bluegrass or ryegrass. Try one of the new strains of buffalo grass that can be watered as little as twice a month.
  • Water only when plants need it. Water requirements vary by species, location, and time of year.
  • Deeper, less frequent watering is best for most lawns. Water only two or three times per week.
  • Urban Drool is Not Cool.  Watch your sprinklers to be sure they’re not producing run-off. Adjust the direction of the sprinkler heads; replace broken heads and leaking valves.
  • Cut back on fertilizer. Apply only the fertilizer that’s necessary many non-flowering trees and shrubs never require fertilizer.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch! A layer of mulch on the ground reduces evaporation, conserves water, and stabilizes soil temperature and crowds out weeds.

For more information about irrigating and maintaining a healthy lawn, go to  Information about rebates for WaterSense toilets and showerheads can be found at

Rebecca Miller-Cripps is a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener of Tuolumne County.

UCCE Master Gardeners of Tuolumne County can answer home gardening questions. Call 209-533-5912 or go to: to fill out our easy-to-use problem questionnaire. Check out our website at: You can also find us on Facebook, or pick up the local Master Gardener book “Sharing the Knowledge: Gardening in the Mother Lode” at Mountain Books or the UCCE Office both in Sonora, CA.