The U.S. is breaking a record right now for the largest area of land suffering from drought ever, making water conservation crucial.
Approximately 56 percent is currently under drought conditions, with our own little part of the world under “exceptional” drought status, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
"The recent heat and dryness is catching up with us on a national scale," Michael Hayes, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said in a July 5 statement. "Now, we have a larger section of the country in these lesser categories of drought than we've previously experienced in the past 12 years.”
The last time we saw significant drought across the country was in 2003.
The Irrigation Association has dubbed July "Smart Irrigation Month." In this heat and drought, knowing how to water your lawn correctly is increasingly important.
Did you know that lawns and gardens only need around an inch of water per week? According to Gwinnett County Water Resources, you should water your lawn deeply but infrequently. This helps the roots grow deeper and more drought tolerate. The best time of day to water is between 4 and 8 a.m.
Since 2010, the Georgia Water Stewardship Act has been in effect, which determines when you can water your lawn. Anyone can water before 10 a.m., but after that, you are required to follow a certain schedule. This includes when you can wash your car or use a pressure washer.
Gwinnett County Water Resources offers 10 ways to efficiently water your yard and landscape:
- Consider local climate conditions, as well as your lot’s exact features. Choose appropriate turf and plant species that have low water requirements
- Group plants with similar water needs close together and separate lawn areas from planting beds
- Consider purchasing a “smart” controller that automatically adjusts watering based on rain, soil moisture, evaporation and plant water use
- Please don’t send water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings
- Water at the right time of day. Watering when the sun is low, winds are calm, and temperatures are cooler minimizes evaporation by as much as 30 percent. The best time to water is duringearly morning hours
- Thoroughly soak the root zone (generally within the top six inches of soil for lawns), then let the soil dry. Watering too frequently results in shallow roots and encourages weed growth, disease and fungus
- Reduce runoff by watering each zone for shorter periods. For example, setting your sprinklers to run for three, 5-minute intervals with some soak time lets water infiltrate the soil better than watering for 15 minutes at one time
- Adjust your watering schedule regularly to account for seasonal weather conditions, plant size, and other factors. Monthly (or even weekly) adjustments keep plants healthy without overwatering
- Inspect your irrigation system for leaks, broken or clogged sprinkler heads, or other damaged components
- Check that sprinkler heads are high enough to clear plants that may have grown taller since your irrigation system was installed
A "Smart Irrigation Workshop" will be held on July 31 at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center Auditorium. Pre-register by sending an email with your name, address, and phone number to email@example.com or by calling (678) 376-6722.
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles on drought and extreme heat in Gwinnett County.