Taking care of a lawn requires more than just one big dose of water and sunshine. Depending on the types of plants you have, some may require more or less water. They may even need to be watered at differing frequencies, depending on the age and time of year – some as much as two to three times a day.

“Having to do that by hand, especially if you have a fairly decent area, can be pretty demanding,” says Gary Shinn of Hokuahi Lawns and Garden Shop. “People get busy, they have busy schedules or they might forget. Things come up.” That’s why automated irrigation systems are so effective when it comes to achieving a beautiful yard.

1. Let the Sun Shine … Maybe

In addition to creating zones based on water requirements, consider how much sunlight your plants may need. “You don’t want to run the sunny areas with the shady areas because you’re going to overwater areas to properly water the other parts and vice versa,” warns Shinn. Instead, identify plants that have similar needs and group them together to create zones around your yard.

2. It’s Simple

Designing and installing an irrigation system may seem daunting at first, but all you may need is some guidance by an experienced professional. And while plumbing and electrical work might intimidate most homeowners, “it’s all low voltage, so it’s pretty difficult to mess up as long as you’re pointed in the right direction,” says Shinn, whose company provides services ranging from simple instruction and advice to full installations. 

3. Size Matters

In backyards that measure 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, “the average homeowner may have anywhere from three to five possible zones,” Shinn says. Larger properties may have six zones or more. “The more zones you have, the costlier it gets because then you need more valves, more hardware, a larger capacity clock size – so these are all things that need to be taken into consideration,” he explains.

4. Make It Rain

“When you initially plant, you may have to water that lawn three times a day until it can properly root … for at least the first two weeks,” Shinn says, noting that smaller shrubs and ground covers may only need to be watered twice a day. Once your plants begin to establish a root base, “you can cut the cycle down to once a day.”

5. Mix It Up

Consider incorporating nonthirsty plants into your yard to cut down on water usage, or even installing a rock garden landscape, advises Shinn. It’s possible to combine a lush portion of yard with xeriscape-style landscape, if you properly zone it. “When you do this kind of landscaping [instead of] tropical landscaping, you will use a lot less water,” he adds.

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