AMWUA Text Alert Takes Guesswork Out of Watering


An automated irrigation system waters your yard without you having to think about it – and that’s the problem. If you set your controller and then forget it, this convenient device can cost you money, waste precious drinking water, and weaken your trees and plants. Forgetting an irrigation system most often means a homeowner is overwatering grass, plants, and trees. So

When to Water

Soggy soil can prevent trees and plants from pulling in essential elements from the soil, such as nitrogen and iron, and suffocate the roots. 

The water conservation specialists from the AMWUA cities worked together to deliver a simple solution. Text WHENTOWATER to 33222 and receive a text message on the first of each month with a link to that month’s unique watering guide. The guide reminds you to change your settings as the weather changes and gives you precise watering instructions for all your plants. This easily accessible information can help you keep your yard looking its best. Plus, this is one more way to help you save water—and money. 

The AMWUA Regional Conservation Program officially launched the watering reminder text alerts in May 2018. Those alerts link you to a smart chart that shows you how often to water everything in your yard, including grass, cacti, and annuals. The chart also includes watering instructions when plants with different watering needs, such as trees and shrubs, are on the same valve. The watering guideline charts were developed by the City of Mesa from the popular guide, Landscape Watering by the Numbers.

There are two steps to help you get the most value from the WHENTOWATER text alerts: 

1. The first step is to understand that desert landscapes need to be watered infrequently but deeply to retain water in the soil and prevent evaporation. Here’s a simple rule: water to a depth of three feet for trees, two feet for shrubs, one foot for smaller plants, and a half foot for grass. (You can measure the depth of your watering with something as simple a wooden stick with a pointed end.)

2. The second step is to learn how to adjust the run times on your automated irrigation controller so you can quickly match run times to your WHENTOWATER text alert. Watch the manufacturer’s how-to video designed for your controller. Typical controllers are not difficult, but they can be confusing at first. People often set their controllers once and forget about it or leave it up to a landscaper, who may or may not care about the amount of outdoor water you use.

Effective irrigation system design, installation, and maintenance are important. Sprinklers should serve only the required turf areas and not spray on buildings, fences, or non-landscaped areas. Excess water on sidewalks, pavement, and block walls causes damage, increases liability, and wastes water. Watering should be done before sunrise to reduce evaporation losses. Turf areas, planters,trees, and shrubs should be watered separately to meet varying water needs. Always irrigate the entire depth and width of the root zone regardless of the time of year. Automatic times and moisture sensors make it easier to manage irrigations. Once or twice a year, water twice as long to leach out salts and buildup in our soils.

The changes in your water bills are driven by outdoor use and that’s where you can best save water and save money. Your city is always looking for new ways to make it easier for you to learn about keeping a landscape thriving in the desert. Check AMWUA’s and your city’s water conservation websites to get more information about free classes and webinars, DIY videos, brochures, rebates, and resources that help you save water outdoors.

For over 50 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe, and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit www.amwua.organd don’t forget to text WHENTOWATER to 33222 to receive monthly watering guidelines.

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