By KYLE DUNPHEY, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — How can Utahans know if they’re overwatering their lawns?
“Toss a coin,” says Rob Sowby, professor of civil engineering and construction at BYU, whose recent study suggests that nearly half of Utahans use too much water to keep their grass healthy.
Using aerial photographs of lawns in two Utah County towns and then cross-referencing the data with secondary water bills from thousands of anonymous customers, Sowby’s article points to widespread overuse in the state of Beehive.
“The knee-jerk reaction is that more water equals more green. But there’s a curve, there’s a sweet spot. And as you put in more water, that’s all you do, you don’t make it healthier,” Sowby told the Deseret News.
Overexploitation is problematic on two fronts – first, the West is dealing with a historically bad drought. Water districts are enforcing unprecedented water cuts while the Great Salt Lake and two of the nation’s largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are at rock bottom. The area’s water hawks are warning residents that now is not the time to use too much water on non-essential landscapes, such as a lawn.
Second, too much water will damage the grass.
“Yeah, you put more water in and it gets healthier, but then it peaks. And as you put in more water, that’s all you’re doing – you’re just wasting water. It doesn’t get any healthier,” Sowby says.
An abundance of weeds like crabgrass or thatch, fungal growth like mushrooms, standing water or runoff after irrigation, yellowing and possibly death of patches of grass are all signs of watering excessive.
“When your lawn starts to turn yellow or brown, it can be misinterpreted as under-watering. This is where it gets tricky, because you might not know the difference,” he said. declared.
And perhaps the simplest indication of overuse is your water bill, says Sowby – “If you’re paying a lot for your water, you’re probably watering too much.”
Most residents who overwater, Sowby found, have unhealthy lawns.
Sowby and other water experts have some suggestions on how to right the ship if a lawn has been overwatered.
“It doesn’t have to be a sacrifice,” he said of water conservation, pointing to smart irrigation controllers that can automatically adjust irrigation based on weather conditions and sometimes health. of the ground.
The Utah Water Resources Division also publishes a weekly lawn watering guide – for example, for the week of May 27 through June 2, the division recommends no irrigation for nearly every county along the front. of Wasatch and northern Utah.
At least 60% of water used by residences is for outdoor irrigation, and the division says eliminating one sprinkler can save nearly 3,000 gallons for the average Utah yard.
Comparing the amount of water a lawn receives from rain to the amount provided by a sprinkler system is another way to reduce usage.
And just because we’re in a drought, says Sowby, doesn’t mean green spaces have to go away.
“We need places to recreate, to have activities and to beautify our communities. And that’s why we have to irrigate efficiently. We just need to optimize them, and also reconsider how we fit out in the future,” he said.
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