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 Outdoor Water Use

Stage I of the Drought Contingency Plan in Effect (effective Oct. 14, 2013)

During winter months, its recommended to turn off irrigation systems completely.  If water is needed, hand-water those specific plants that need it.  If the entire yard needs water (in the event of a dry winter--not currently!), run the system through once, then turn it back off.

Overseeding with rye, or other cool season grass, isn't recommended either, due to the increased water use.  It also will compete with your warm season grass for nutrients in the soil.  This weakens the warm season grass (St. Augustine, bermuda, etc.) and it may be necessary to add fertilizers. 

Outdoor water use accounts for the majority of Round Rock's water consumption during the summer months, as a city our water use can easily triple. This is where the majority of our water savings opportunities are, since outdoor use is discretionary.

Automatic Irrigation Systems:

A typical an irrigation system can use anywhere between 500-3,000 gallons of water each time it waters the yard.  This is a large range, due to several variables, including size of yard, depth & type of soil, water pressure, type of sprinkler heads, and length of runtimes (to name a few!).  Each yard is different and it's difficult to provide a one size fits all answer for how much water it takes to water your yard.

  • If you are concerned about your water usage, you can schedule a free irrigation system evaluation by licensed City staff at 512-671-2872 or by emailing Jessica Woods, Water Conservation Program Coordinator.  Staff will determine how many gallons your current schedule uses, provide a recommended watering schedule, and recommend any system upgrades that may benefit your yard.  Staff will not make repairs.
    • You must have a working irrigation system and be a direct City of Round Rock water customer to qualify for an irrigation system evaluation.
  • Efficient Irrigation rebate is for existing systems only. Program is currently available.  There are seperate applications for residential and non-residential (commercial & multifamily) properties. 
  • Seasonal recommended runtimes and irrigation tips.
  • Evaluate your irrigation system on your own, with these instructions. | Watch video on how to unclog a sprinkler head
  • Basic operating instructions for irrigation controllers can be found here.  If you need the complete manual for your controller, locate and download in at this site.

Water Conservation Specialist Jessica Woods shows how to program a sprinkler system to water twice during the night for shorter periods to prevent run-off, save water and have a beautiful lawn.

Basic Irrigation Advice,  How-Tos:

  • Irrigate twice per week, if needed, according to the watering schedule during summer months.  You may be able to water less if your yard has good, deep soil, is shady, and/or you do not water on a set schedule currently.  Meaning: water only when the plants show stress.
  • The landscape can (and should) tolerate some stress, which will help build up its drought tolerance.
  • An easy way to see if your turf needs water is to walk across it.  If you can still see your footprints after 15 seconds then it needs water.
  • Water before the sun has risen.  Evaporation losses are up to 60% higher during the heat of the day.
    • Avoid watering on windy days, as most of the water will be blown off your property.  Wind speeds tend to be lower when the sun is down--another good reason to water at night. 
    • Turn irrigation systems off when it is raining (and prior to a rain event) and leave off several days after a significant (more than 1/2") rain event.
    • Install a rain shut-off device (at right) and a freeze sensor on automatic irrigation rain shut-off devicesystems.  Check them annually to ensure they are working.
    • Adjust water schedule seasonally.  Do not simply turn on the system and forget it.
      • Spring (March-May) and Fall (October) schedules can be 1/2 of the summer schedule.
      • Turn irrigation system off during winter (December thru February).  Water manually if needed. Irrigating during the winter months usually is not necessary, due to the regular rain events and wastewater averaging.
  • Water your grass thoroughly to a depth of 4-6 inches.  This helps make the grass more drought tolerant by allowing roots to grow deeper.
  • It only takes one inch of water to penetrate to this depth. To determine how long it takes to water one inch, put out several tuna fish cans, cat food cans, jellyroll pan (or any flat-sided container) on the yard and turn on the water.  Let the water run for 20 minutes (or whatever time you choose).  After this time, measure how much water is in the can.  Now you know it takes 20 minutes to water 1/2 inch (or whatever measurement you came up with).
  • Drip, soaker hoses, or individual spray emitters are ideal for keeping water close to roots of the plant, where the plant needs it, rather than spraying into the air and on the leaves.
  • Purchase a hose timer (pictured) to use for garden hoses, if you are prone to forgetting to turn it off.  It works like an egg timer where you set how many minutes you want it to run and it cuts the water off after that time.  You will still need to go and shut the water off on the spigot at some point though.

City of Round Rock | 221 East Main Street, Round Rock, Texas 78664 | Phone: (512) 218-5400
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