2017-2018 winter has been REALLY dry, but reservoir levels were well above average heading into this spring so hopefully most front range communities will continue to be restriction free this year.
Water restrictions are outdoor watering rules that municipalities or water providers can implement to restrict water usage during times when water consumption is outpacing water supply. Under most circumstances water restrictions have meant only watering outdoor landscapes 2 or 3 times per week. Colorado Springs, for example, has seen 2 periods (2002-2004 and again in 2013) in the last 50 years when outdoor watering has been restricted to some extent. Other water providers throughout the Colorado front range have also implemented water restrictions of some sort with a few continuing presently. Water restrictions create some challenges for property owners maintaining lawn areas or wanting to lay new sod, but history has shown us that in most cases these challenges have been manageable. Check with your water provider for current updates on water restrictions.
Challenges of planting new lawns (or other landscape plants) under water restrictions:
- New plants including grass do not require more water than old plants but they do require lighter more frequent watering to keep them alive (more often than 2 to 3 days per week during the first month of establishment.)
- Designated watering dates set by the water provider are inflexible and do not allow for variation due to weather events.
The Good News!
- In most cases a water provider will permit new plantings and offer an exemption period to water the landscape material daily for a period of time. These watering permits allow for proper establishment watering during the critical first few weeks.
- In some cases water providers allow hand watering to establish new landscape material.
- Over 100 million square feet of lawn area as well as millions of container plants and trees were installed in Colorado in the last two water restriction periods with an overwhelming majority of that landscape material surviving perfectly well.
- We have the expertise and knowledge to help you succeed with your new lawn planting. Don’t hesitate to give us a call.
- You do not have to live with a yard full of mud and weeds. You can landscape an plant grass.
How does a watering permit work?
- Most areas do not require a permit to plant sod. The permit is to water more than the 2 or3 days per week.
- Watering permits are normally good for a few weeks to a full month depending upon the jurisdiction.
- Many water providers including Colorado Springs, Cherokee Metro district, Denver Water, etc., require proof of proper soil amendment to receive the permit. In many cases this means 3 – 4 cubic yards of organic matter incorporated into the property’s soil.
- Many water providers charge a permit fee.
- Check with your specific water provider for exact details
What is the best time for planting during water restrictions?
I’ll tell you after the year is over (just joking.) The truth is that each year is different and unpredictable. Early spring and fall generally are fairly easy with cooler temperatures, but during some years summer is a great time to plant. Often the monsoons that set up in July and August provide moisture that makes new sod planting easy. Our advice is to watch the weather forecast and let that guide you.
Lawn care tips during water restrictions:
- Do not over-fertilize. Fertilization is important in drought but over-fertilization creates excessive water demands and hastens drought injury.
- Keep traffic to a minimum. Traffic and drought are a difficult combination for lawn areas.
- Raise mower height to encourage deeper rooting.
- Maintain a sharp mower blade
- Reduce expectations. Grasses tend to be able to tolerate extreme drought through a dormancy mechanism. This dormancy is not pretty though. Do not mistake dormant grass for dead grass. More often than not struggling grass will recover after a few good rains.
- Winter-water to ensure that winter damage doesn’t have your lawn on the run when spring comes.
- Do not stop watering too early in the fall. Make sure that your lawn is healthy as it enters winter.
- Give us a call or stop by if you have any questions.