Watering Efficiently Outdoors | Regional Water Providers Consortium

Watering Efficiently Outdoors

hose watering efficiently

The greatest waste of water is watering too much, too often. In the Portland metro area, our water use is at its highest during the summer months – often doubling or tripling – due to outdoor watering.

Oftentimes this is because people don’t know how much water their landscape needs. It’s one reason why outdoor watering, from garden hoses to in-ground sprinkler systems, is key to saving water outdoors. Below are some basic watering tips to get you started.


Can I water efficiently by hand?

Yes! Watering by hand allows you to target where and how much you water. For example, you can “spot water” plants that need a little more water between regularly-scheduled watering times. Adding a hose nozzle to the end of your hose will allow you to control the flow so that the water is only on when you need it.


How much should I water my garden or landscape?

Water your garden or landscape based on your soil conditions and your plants' water needs. we recommend watering your lawn an average of one inch per week, but check the Weekly Watering Number for this week's watering amount. Many established trees, shrubs, and perennials don’t need water as frequently. Check with your local garden center or landscape professional to learn about your plants' specific water needs. 


What time of day should I water my garden or landscape?

You should water your garden or landscape before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. when temperatures are cooler and the air is calmer so that less water evaporates.


How often should I water my garden or landscape?

We recommend watering established landscapes twice a week rather than every day. Your goal is to water less often and deeply so your soil is moist several inches down. This will help roots grow deeper, resulting in more water-efficient, drought-tolerant plants. Newer plantings, vegetables, and potted plants may need more frequent watering.

Watering schedule example: 15 minutes of watering on Wednesday and 15 minutes of watering on Saturday


What do I do if runoff or puddling occurs while watering my garden or landscape?

Short answer: Stagger your watering.

In the Pacific Northwest, many soils are hard and dense (clay) which may take water longer to seep into them. If this is the case with the soil in your yard, you may have to adjust your watering schedule. This will help you apply the amount of water that your soil can absorb each time that you water. Runoff and puddling mean that you are watering too fast for your soil to absorb it.

If this occurs, you may want to use a “cycle and soak” pattern for your watering. To do this, water in several short sessions on each day that you water. This will give the water time to soak into the soil between watering sessions. For example, if your watering schedule is a total of 40 minutes per week, you can water 10 minutes, twice a day, for two days each week. This gives your soil a better chance of absorbing the water than if you water 20 minutes per day, twice a week.


Adjust the amount you water throughout the summer

One of the best ways to water efficiently during the summer is to adjust the amount you water. This means watering more when it is hot and dry and less when it is cooler and wet. This little bit of extra effort will help you use water more efficiently in your landscape. Find out how to program your automatic sprinkler with these easy step-by-step instructions. Then, you can use the Weekly Watering Number as a guide for how much to water your garden or landscape from April - October.