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Watering a Hillside Landscape

Watering a hillside, or sloped, landscape is more difficult than watering a standard, flat yard. Sloped and hillside lawns and landscapes can easily develop dry dead spots during the hot part of the season. The reason is that the water tends to run off the sloped areas before it has a chance to be absorbed into the soil. Deep saturation is a key to a healthy lawns and plants. Deep watering helps establish deeper root systems on plants, enabling the lawns and plants to handle summer heat stress and drought. When the water  runs off the sloped landscape, or just barely breaks the surface, does the lawn or landscape very little good. So how do you give landscaping and lawn on a slope better water saturation?

How to Water a Hillside Landscape

For flat lawns, watering the lawn for long periods is one of the keys to a healthy lawn.  However, this tactic may not work as well on a sloped lawn since the water will not stay on the surface long enough to be taken into the ground.  So, one thing you can try is to split your watering duration from one longer duration into into two or three shorter cycles. If you generally water the area for 45 minutes, you might split the cycle into three 15 minute cycles. For example, on watering days, you run the sprinkler for the specified amount of time, let it soak for a few hours, then repeat this for the number of times needed.  This still gives the area the correct amount of water, but gives the ground time to absorb it before adding more.

To determine the exact amount of time to use on your sloped area, turn on the lawn sprinkler and watch for how long it takes for water runoff to begin. This is the maximum of how long each cycle should be.  Also place a rain guage in the area that you are testing and note how much water is in the guage.  This will help you determine how many times you need to repeat the watering cycle.  A lawn should receive about one inch of water per week.

The area should be watered the appropriate amount all in the same day if possible.  Don’t just split your watering cycles into different days. You need the deep saturation fof the root systems or healthier plants. Plants and lawns like infrequent deep watering much more than frequent shallow watering.

Landscaping and specimen plants on a hillside will also benefit from better saturation. When installing new plants, the plants should be planted in larger holes filled with good soil that absorbs water easily. Also, dams and water wells should be built on the downhill side of the plants. This will help give the water time to soak straight down to the root zone before it runs off.

If it is becoming difficult to maintain the watering cycle you have established, you might want to consider installing in in-ground water system for both the lawn and your landscape plants.  Doing this will assure your sloped landscape gets the right amound of water without you having to continually monitor it.


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