Home & Garden

Water for the wise: Class shows Tri-Citians how smart watering saves money

KENNEWICK -- Do you use water wisely in the garden and yard?

Are a rain gauge, drip irrigation and irrigation timers as much a part of your gardening tool kit as a trowel and rake?

Or are you an uncaring user who lets your sprinklers fling water wildly, not caring if it hits flowers or cement walkways, lawn or fence?

Watering wisely is important for three reasons.

First, it conserves an important natural resource, said Marianne Ophardt, a horticulturist with Washington State University Extension for Benton and Franklin counties.

"Second, if you water properly you'll have a healthier, better looking lawn and landscape," she said.

"Plus you'll save money. So even if you're not into saving water for others to use in the future, by watering efficiently you won't have to use as much expensive fertilizer."

And watering wisely will save you even more money if you irrigate using water supplied by the city, which generally is more expensive than irrigation water, Ophardt said.

You can learn how to save water, save money and have a healthy lawn and landscape at a three-hour workshop, "Smart Water Management for the Yard & Garden."

The workshop runs from 9 a.m. to noon July 25 at Highlands Grange Hall, 1620 S. Union St., Kennewick.

Featured speaker is Troy Peters, Washington State University Extension irrigation specialist. He'll explain when plants need water and how to get it to them, not the patio.

A representative from the Kennewick Irrigation District also will discuss how to use "smart controllers," a device which measures moisture in the soil, to water yards, gardens and landscaping. The controllers hook to irrigation timers and signal the timer to go on only when the plants need water.

"Much better," Ophardt said, "than a dumb timer -- one of those set it and forget its -- which runs the irrigation water based on time, not need."

Ophardt will close the workshop with a talk on good lawn management -- mowing, fertilizing and thatch control.

The workshop is sponsored by WSU Extension of Benton County, the Benton-Franklin Master Gardener Foundation and KID.

Cost is $10 per person and preregistration is required. Registration deadline is July 18.

For more information or to register, go to the Kennewick Extension office, 5600E W. Canal Drive. Or call 735-3551.

* Loretto J. Hulse: 509-582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com.

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