With two dry years and current forecasts predicting continued dry weather (which could lead to increased irrigation in the late spring and summer), it is especially important to check that irrigation systems are working properly and that outdoor water use is as efficient as possible for landscape irrigation.

Here are some springtime landscape and irrigation tips:

* Inspect your irrigation system. Test your irrigation system to make sure it’s functioning properly because problems are not always visible unless the system is running. Look for broken and/or misaligned sprinkler heads (to avoid wasted water on driveways and sidewalks) and leaking pipes. Check drip irrigation for broken and/or missing emitters, breaks in the drip lines and any other damage.

* Check the batteries. Irrigation controllers sometimes revert to factory settings after even a brief power outage. Check the batteries in your controller every 6 months and replace as needed to ensure your controller continues to run properly.

* Soil moisture is key. The soil may look dry on the surface, but it can be wet at root level. Use a soil-moisture meter or screwdriver to go down a couple of inches into the soil and see if the soil is still moist.

* Just add mulch. Now is the time to add a layer of three to four inches of mulch around your plants to retain moisture, protect against the summer heat and suppress weeds.

* Late nights or early mornings are best. Run your irrigation system in the early morning or late at night to prevent evaporation.

* Convert your landscape. Consider removing all or part of your turf and replacing it with low-water-use plants.

* Don’t forget your trees. During the spring and summer months, don’t forget to deep water your trees as needed depending upon the age of your tree, as young and mature trees have different watering needs. The city’s urban forestry webpage at CityofDavis.org/City-Hall/Urban-Forestry has more details on tree watering.

During the most recent drought emergency declared by the state in 2014 – 2017, the city enacted mandatory water-use restrictions in order to comply with the State Emergency Declaration and to meet our required water-use reduction target. These restrictions on water usage have remained in place and can be found on the city’s webpage at www.SaveDavisWater.org; click on the link for “Drought information and water-use restrictions.”

Some of the water-use restrictions include:

* No watering outdoors between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.;

* No watering during periods of rain or for 48 hours after measurable rainfall;

* No excessive water flow or runoff onto pavement, gutters or ditches; and

* No washing down paved surfaces unless for safety or sanitation.

Visit SaveDavisWater.org for more water-savings tips, information on water-wise landscaping, and helpful indoor and outdoor water-use efficiency information. Sign up for the city’s online customer water-use portal, AquaHawk, at www.SaveDavisWater.org to view your hourly water usage, and set and then receive alerts when abnormal water use is detected.

—Dawn Calciano is a Conservation Coordinator with the City of Davis; this column is published monthly. Reach her at SaveWater@CityofDavis.org. This article was originally published in the Davis Enterprise May 12, 2021.