Easy, smart irrigation

It's often difficult to know exactly how much water you're applying to your lawn and how much irrigation it really needs. Consequently, you may water too much or too little. The State Climate Office of North Carolina and N.C. State University's Department of Crop Science have teamed up to provide a free, online service that will tell you, based on where you live and current weather conditions, how much water your lawn needs at a given time.

The interactive system walks you through an account setup by asking a few simple questions about the type of grass, soil and irrigation method you have. It then calculates the amount of irrigation you need and keeps a diary for you of when and how much water you use. When you enter your address, climate information is retrieved from the closest weather station that is part of the N.C. Climate Retrieval and Observations Network of the Southeast. The irrigation needed by your turf is then calculated based on recent weather conditions, including precipitation and evaporation. Then the system tells you, in number of minutes, how long to water your lawn. Using the Turf Irrigation Management System guidelines can result in at least a 25 percent decrease in your water usage, helping you maintain a healthier lawn. To sign up, visit www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/tims.

Hort Shorts

  • A plant that is drought-tolerant still needs regular watering until it gets settled in. Don't waterlog, but make sure water soaks into the root zone.
  • For an edible cover crop, plant bush beans in bare spots to enrich the soil.
  • Pinch back blooms of annuals like petunias and marigolds after planting. This will allow plants to expend more energy getting roots established and will promote branching of stems and fuller flowering.
  • Leave seed heads on some or all of your coneflowers, and you'll be visited later in the season by scores of goldfinches.

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