As droughts drag on in many parts of the country, sprinklers have fallen out of favor. They’ve also come under fire for wetting foliage, since damp foliage can contribute to various fungal diseases. But when used intelligently, sprinklers are smart tools for your garden—especially in climates where drought is less common. Here’s how to use them right:
Water in the morning, never the evening. This allows foliage to dry quickly, preventing fungal disease and evaporation. With a timer, you can start the sprinkler before the sun rises.
Choose a calm day. On windy days, much of the water blows away.
Avoid misting. Mist evaporates quickly, so reserve it for newly planted seeds. Water plants, not pavement. Position sprinklers so water doesn’t run down a driveway or onto sidewalks.
Don’t water too much or too little. Lawns and most flower beds need 1 inch of water a week. Measure rainfall with a rain gauge or can.
Check water absorption. Sandy and loamy soils absorb water quickly, but clay soil absorbs it slowly. To encourage water to soak into clay rather than puddling or running off, water lightly and let it soak in for an hour or more. Water a second time and let it soak in again. You may even need to water a third time.