Originally Published: May 8, 2015 6 a.m.
For those of you that live within the Prescott city limits, are you aware that time of day outdoor watering restrictions are in effect? In 2006, the City of Prescott adopted a Time of Day Outdoor Watering restriction into City Code to improve the community's efforts for conservation-minded irrigation and to meet state water conservation requirements and yearly, from April 15 through Nov. 1, all City water customers must water outdoors between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. daily.
A copy of Ordinance 3546, 4-11-2006 is below:
TIME OF DAY-OUTDOOR WATERING RESTRICTIONS:
(A) Time of day watering restrictions shall be effective during the period April 15 through November 1 of each year for all potable water customers of the City located within the City limits, during which period outdoor spray irrigation and airborne watering shall only be permitted during the hours between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. daily.
(B) The Public Works Director may grant a written exception in such cases where serious hardship to the customer would result. A copy of all such exceptions shall be maintained on file, referenced by address, in the Public Works Department.
(C) Time of day-outdoor watering restrictions shall not apply to:
1. Water systems utilizing low volume drip irrigation watering.
2. Sustaining decorative, containerized plants and commercial plant stock which are maintained for resale.
3. Visually supervised operation of watering systems for short periods of time to check system condition effectiveness.
4. Newly installed landscapes for a period of 90 days from the actual date of installation, and only where necessary to establish growth.
5. Supervised preparation, operation, maintenance, establishment, repair, or renovation of athletic fields of public parks or educational facilities, or other places used for public festivals and events."
So you ask, why does watering have to take place between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.? Watering in the early morning (between 4 and 8 a.m.) saves money and water, while keeping your grass, plants and trees healthier. Watering early when the sun is low and winds are calm helps reduce water loss from evaporation due to heat and wind. Soil absorption is improved so water and nutrients get to plant roots where it is needed most. In talking with Josh Cruthers, owner of JC Clean-up, a well-respected landscape maintenance company in town, Josh prefers early morning watering because water usage throughout the municipality is low, so pressure and flow are more uniform. "Plants absorb water when it's cooler, in fact, plants love to take in water when it is cooler because it is much easier for absorption," he said.
Cooler temperatures allow the water to "get deeper" into the plant cells, so less water is lost once it is in the leaf. This process is called transpiration.
In addition to thinking about the importance of water conservation in our city, watering late evening or early morning is for the health of the plants and grass. Plant health and water conservation actually coincide, and the general rule is watering should be deep and infrequent, as this helps plants to establish a strong root system.
Again, the best time of day to water outside plants is early morning, before the heat of the day has set in. This reduces the amount of water lost through evaporation, and also provides water for the plants to help them get through the heat of the day. Every few days, the yard should be given a deep soaking of water in the early morning. Another rule of thumb is to try to water the yard/garden with 1 inch (2.54 cm) of water every week.
Marc Vetere of Manzanita Landscaping says, "Do not water the garden during the heat of the day, because the water will evaporate rather than penetrating the soil." The goal is to deeply soak the soil, encouraging the plant to put out more roots to search for water, rather than creating a shallow area of moisture and keeping it wet. A plant with ready access to water through daily watering will develop a shallow root system and become weak. Plants that are used to the stress of less frequent watering will also do better in varied weather conditions, or when a gardener forgets to water.
If watering in the evening, after the heat is passed, make sure to water early enough that the leaves of the plants will completely dry before night. Fungal infections can colonize leaves that are left moist overnight, and the roots will also suffer from being watered in the late evening. Being left moist and cold at night can lead to rot and fungal infections.
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