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07.01.14Alan Harris

Do You Have Any of These 3 Signs of Overwatering


Stains in the parking lot is a sign of overwatering.

Moss growing in the curb is a sign of overwatering.

Moss growing on the tree trunk is a sign of overwatering. Click for more overwatering pictures

Is your irrigation system overwatering the landscape? You don’t have to be a landscape professional to see the horrendous tell-tale signs of overwatering. In a previous post Richard shared the signs plants display when they are overwatered. Here are 3 signs of overwatering not related to plant health.

Overwatering Sign #1 – Parking Lot Stains

The first picture shows repeated and multiple stains on the parking lot surface.  When irrigation water starts to run over the curb it is a sign the soil is saturated and will not absorb any more water. Water absorption rate varies based on slope, soil type, mulch and density of plant material. A steep slope with bare, clay soil will experience run off more quickly than a flat, sandy soil with mature ground cover.

Overwatering Sign #2 – Moss in Gutter

The second picture shows moss growing at the junction or the curb and the asphalt. The soil behind the curb is likely saturated and the moisture is slowly emerging creating an excellent environment for moss, lichen or water loving weeds. Look for this in shaded areas or on the north side of the curb where the sun does not shine.

Overwatering Sign #3 – Moss on Trees

The third picture shows a clear line where the irrigation hits the trunk of the tree. Below the water line on is where the moss and lichen are growing on the bark. While the growth will not hurt the tree the bark may be softer and more conducive to insect activity. Check out more pictures of irrigation overwatering.

My Water is Free. Why Should I Care?

Even if you use low cost reclaimed water or free water from a well or reservoir, overwatering can still cost you money.

According to the Asphalt Institute excessive water is a major contributor to asphalt failure including Alligator Cracks, Pot Holes and Grade Depressions (pdf). All of these asphalt failures can lead to costly repairs. 

Overwatering the landscape will contribute to the leaching of nutrients and potentially the decline or the death of plant material. Overwatering will also result in the leaching of weed preventative resulting in more weeds.

Overwatering the landscape will also promote shallow root growth making the plants less tolerant of drought conditions. If your landscape has been overwatered for a long period of time some weaning of the amount of irrigation may be required to allow the plants to establish deeper roots.

But My Grass Won’t Be As Green

If your irrigation is properly zoned where the turf and beds are separated you may be able to keep the grass green and still not overwater. Start by reducing the run time for all zones then add a second cycle for ½ of the time for only the turf zones. If your irrigation is not properly hydrozoned, consult an irrigation professional for affordable irrigation upgrade options.

If you liked this post about signs of overwatering please leave a comment, share it with a friend, check out my previous posts , follow me on Twitter @h2oMatters and check out water stories I am reading on Flipboard:

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Alan Harris

Alan Harris is a water management pioneer. With roots in landscape architecture, Alan has worked with irrigation throughout his career experimenting with hydrozones and a variety of high efficiency irrigation systems. Now, over thirty years in the landscape industry, Alan continues to stay apprised of the latest technology even in a sales leadership capacity as our Director of Sales Operations for our landscape maintenance division. In addition to his contributions to this blog, Alan keeps his hand in water management as a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine and speaker at WaterSmart Innovations Conference.

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