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When Should I Turn on My Sprinklers In Utah?

04-Apr-2019 | by Scott Bennett

Spring has come to the Wasatch Front. Seasonal allergy sufferers are feeling the increase of pollen in the air. Buds on trees are almost ready to pop open. The grass in our yards is starting to look greener and greener. But this is Utah, basically a high mountain desert. We know that we are going to need sprinklers to keep this grass looking green instead of yellow or brown. So when is the best time to turn the sprinklers on and start watering? And do we tend to overdo it? Utah’s Division of Water Conservation Program estimates that Utahns use twice as much water outside than is really needed. It’s wise to be mindful about our water use. We want our yards to be healthy and look great, yet all of us must help conserve our resources.

There isn’t a magical date that is set for Salt Lake City for the perfect time to start watering. You will have to decide on your own. Our soil varies. Some areas have sandy soil; other areas have clay soil. Watering times will vary. In order to decide when you need to start watering, the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District has some great ideas on how to assess your own yard to make your own decision about when to start watering.

1. Water dry patches with a hose. Target a dry area to improve it, instead of turning on your sprinklers. If the area doesn’t improve after being watered, then you may want to have a lawn or landscaping company come look at it. Lawn pests can also create dry patches in your lawn.

2. Try the screwdriver test. Poke a screwdriver into your lawn. If it goes in easily, then your soil is moist and doesn’t need water. If the screwdriver won’t go in more than an inch, it needs water.

3. Assess wilt. If your grass looked wilted or if it looks like it has changed color, it needs water and will recover quickly with water.

4. Step on it. If you walk on your grass and the blades of grass remain matted, that can be an indication that your grass needs water. Grass that has enough water will spring back after being walked on.

If you perform one of these tests and determine that it’s time to water your grass, remember that in the spring, infrequent watering will probably get the job done. You could water once and see if your lawn recovers. You may even being watering once a week by the end of April. You won’t need to water several times a week until the hot weather hits in the summer months.

Another thing to keep in mind is the variable spring weather in Utah. Utahns joke about blinking and the weather changing. There is some truth to this saying. It is common to get rain and even snow in the spring. Each week, check the weather and the expected storms. You may not need to water at all!

Remember, your sprinklers may need some maintenance at the beginning of the season. Turn them on slowly and only to midstream. Assess your yard for broken sprinkler heads and problems. You will be glad that you did, so that when you decide your yard really needs the water, your system will be ready to go.

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