Don’t turn on the sprinklers just yet, expert says

Apr 15, 2024, 1:00 PM

Sprinkler goes off, wondering when to turn on sprinklers?...

Water shoots out of a sprinkler in Herriman on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — While it’s starting to feel more and more like spring, experts are asking Utahns to keep their sprinklers off for a little bit longer.

Taun Beddes, Utah State University Extension horticulturist and co-host of the KSL Greenhouse Show said people along the Wasatch Front should not consider turning on the sprinklers until at least May 1.

“It’s just absolutely not needed,” Beddes said. “With the cool weather, there’s still plenty of soil moisture.”

Beddes said watering the lawn too early can waste a ton of the water Mother Nature just replenished.

Following years of drought, Utah’s reservoirs are now, on average, over 84% full.

Only one small chunk of far eastern Utah is in moderate drought now. Other than that, Utah’s soil moisture is in great shape.

Beddes said lawn irrigation can take up as much water as agriculture, and agriculture uses far and away more water than anything else in both the Great Salt Lake Basin and along the Colorado River.

“Conservation is going to be the way forward,” Beddes said.

Along with lost water, Beddes said turning on the sprinklers too early can also hurt a lawn in the long-run. Too much water sucks oxygen out of the soil, affecting how far the grass’s roots can grow. Beddes said all that extra water and humidity can make a lawn more susceptible to pests and diseases.

“Where I see the most disease and insect pest problems are in lawns that are overwatered [and] mowed too short,” Beddes said.

Now that you know when to turn on sprinklers, what’s next?

After May 1, Beddes said you can test whether your lawn needs to be watered by sticking a long screwdriver into it. If it goes down a ways without much resistance, your lawn doesn’t need water yet.

Some other tips include:

  • Only turn the sprinklers on if it hasn’t rained for five to seven days, or if we experience an abnormal heat wave.
  • When you do water your lawn, do it sometime between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. to limit how much evaporates.

Beddes also encouraged people to look into water-wise landscaping or systems that can automatically turn the sprinklers on at the right times.

“Be cautious, be aware of our water situation and just try not to waste it,” Beddes said.

Related: Utah temperatures warming up, strong snowpack set to start melting

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Don’t turn on the sprinklers just yet, expert says