With approximately 60 percent of Southern Nevada's water used outdoors, it's important to ensure you're managing your outdoor water use efficiently. Learn how to keep your landscape healthy, while keeping your water use to a minimum.
Warm weather tips
Don't crank up your landscape watering as soon as temperatures start getting hotter—grass, trees and plants actually don't need as much water during that time as we tend to think. In May, while nights are still cool, gradually increase your sprinkler watering from three days to four. From there, keep an eye on your landscape and increase watering only as needed into June, July and August.
- Hand water brown spots until they are gone.
- Eliminate blocked spray patterns by trimming around the sprinkler head or installing a taller 3- or 4-inch pop-up.
- Make sure you are using the same type of sprinkler heads throughout your lawn, do not mix and match.
- Check that your sprinkler heads are level to grade, perpendicular to the slope of the lawn and not watering sidewalks, walls, or patios.
- Ensure sprinkler heads provide "head-to-head" coverage. The spray of one sprinkler should reach the head of the adjacent sprinkler.
- Determine whether water pressure is a factor. Misting and excessive drift are signs of high pressure. Low pressure displays itself with weak, short spray patterns and reduced coverage.
Burned and scorched leaves
- Water plants deeply and infrequently to allow oxygen in the soil, wash away salts, and encourage deep rooting.
- Deeply water trees and shrubs once every seven to 10 days. Newer plants may need water twice as often.
- Add a layer of surface mulch 2- to 4-inches thick to conserve water and provide insulation from the heat.
- Ensure you are using the right fertilizer both for your specific plants and for the time of year. Some fertilizers release much faster in hot weather, increasing the potential for damage.
- Aerate at least twice a year to minimize compacted soils, which can stress your lawn.
- If you notice an area that is particularly dry, add a tablespoon of liquid soap to a gallon of water and drench the dried area. This breaks down the surface tension of the grass.
Each time you mow the lawn, change directions and set your mower to the proper height (2 ½ - 3 inches for tall fescue and ¾ - 1 ½ inches for Bermuda) to promote a healthy lawn and to reduce water use.
Choose native plants that are meant for the arid Southern Nevada climate and require less water and maintenance. There are a variety of low-maintenance plants which will add both color and vibrance to your landscape. Bermuda and other warm-season grasses require about one-third less water than tall fescue grass.
- Use a drip irrigation system to water trees and shrubs and water appropriately. Experts agree that running drip irrigation less frequently is much better for plants than daily watering.
- Fine tune watering times for each station to account for different watering requirements due to exposure, shade, and sprinkler output.
- Adjust your irrigation clock seasonally and comply with mandatory watering restrictions. Consider upgrading to a smart irrigation clock, if you haven't already.
- Check your sprinkler system once a week. Replace or repair broken or missing sprinklers.
- Once a month, check your drip irrigation system for breaks or clogs.
- Arrange sprinklers so that the spray of one sprinkler reaches the head of the sprinkler closest to it. Remove any obstructions and level sprinklers to grade to prevent spray blockage or tripping hazards. Ensure sprinklers aren't spraying walls, driveways, or sidewalks.
- Water shady areas about 30 percent less than sunny areas.
Cold weather tips
- Fertilize in late September or early October with a balanced mix of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Fertilizer improves turf quality, root growth, and builds cold resistance into your grass.
- To get your landscape through winter, fertilize again in November.
- If you have fruit trees, fertilize them in late winter for the best results.
Freeze and frost
If you notice a plant has been damaged by frost or freeze, leave it alone until warmer weather arrives and new growth appears. Pruning or transplanting a damaged plant during winter months can hurt or even kill it. To protect plants from freezing temperatures:
- Avoid getting water on leaves and petals when watering and add a layer of protective mulch.
- Cover plants with porous materials (old sheets, towels, burlap) at night.
- Use a nitrate fertilizer.
- To stimulate new crown growth, lower your lawnmower's height to 1½ inches.
- Aerate grass in September or October to resolve compacted soil and boost water penetration, reduce runoff on slopes, and help water and fertilizer nutrients get down to the roots.
Pipes and hoses
- Disconnect and drain garden hoses when they are not being used.
- Insulate your irrigation backflow device by draping a towel over it and covering it with a bucket or other protective cover that touches the ground. Never obstruct or seal the ports of a backflow protection device.
- Wrap exposed irrigation pipes with pipe insulation, insulated "faucet socks," an old towel or duct tape.
- Don't leave interior or exterior pipes dripping. Las Vegas Valley temperatures generally aren’t extreme enough to warrant it.
- Locate your water shut-off valve and learn how to turn off water at its source, so you can ward off damage from leaks or burst lines. Know how to turn off your irrigation backflow device as well.
February is usually mild enough to allow you to plant petunias, pansies, snapdragons and other cool-season annuals in well-drained, highly-enriched soil. Stake new plants and water them deeply to prevent damage from winds.
Reduce the risk of damage to your pool during winter months with these tips:
- During freezing temperatures, run filtration and jet pumps continuously.
- Always maintain a proper pool water level.
- Adjust pool and spa jets upwards to reduce surface freezing.
- Repair all air and water leaks.
- Store pool accessories in a clean, dry area.
- Consult with your pool maintenance company about winterizing your pool.
The ideal time to prune trees and shrubs is in late winter, when plants are mostly dormant. Finish heavy pruning by mid-February, before buds show evidence of swelling. Don't prune more than one-quarter of the living tissue during the year.
When to water
Winter months are plagued with afternoon winds that keep your sprinklers from hitting their grassy targets. Water your yard in the midmorning to avoid them and reduce the risk of icing.