As the weather starts to heat up, lawns get thirstier. But they might not need as much water as you’d think, especially during the spring.

From May 1 to May 7, the Utah Division of Water Resources recommends that Weber County residents water their lawns only once a week — for 20 minutes with pop-up spray sprinkler heads, or 40 minutes with impact rotor sprinkler heads, according to a news release from the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

The same recommendation was made for Davis County beginning April 24, and it remains in place for the coming week.

This is not a choice between saving water and having a nice lawn, according to Darren Hess, assistant general manager of Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

“If they’ll follow those (state) recommendations, they can have a very healthy lawn,” Hess said, “and it’s amazing — when you put the correct amount of water, it’s actually healthier and greener than if you overwatered that lawn.”

In addition to yielding greener lawns, these practices save a significant amount of water.

“We just really want to educate folks that when they water their (lawn) one time, they’re using 3,000 to 4,000 gallon of water, Hess said, “... and that’s equivalent to over half of the water that they use indoors for a month.”

Hess cautions against starting up the sprinkler system using settings from last July because that’s not necessary for this time of year.

Those who started watering lawns weeks ago jumped the gun, according to Facebook posts from the division. The division released its first weekly recommendation for lawn watering on Friday, April 10. On that date, and on April 17, the division recommended that residents do not water lawns in Weber, Davis, Morgan and Box Elder counties.

On April 24, that recommendation stayed in place for all of those counties but Davis. The weekly recommendations are available on the division’s Facebook page and its website at https://conservewater.utah.gov/guide.html.

These recommendations draw on data, and they’re customized to each county, according to the DNR release.

“The guide takes extensive data based on weather patterns and evapotranspiration rates and simplifies it into how many days per week to water based on conditions in each county,” said Marcie Larson, the division’s conservation manager, in the release. “Keep in mind these are general county recommendations, and people need to monitor their landscape and make adjustments as needed.”

Were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Weber Basin district would be starting to schedule appointments to do free water checks of people’s sprinkler systems, Hess said. At the end of these checks, district representatives will offer to set the system’s timers to ideal watering schedules.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, district staff thought residents likely would not want people visiting their homes, and it’s unlikely the district will be able to transition the program online this summer, according to Hess.

However, there are other resources available, he said.

Utahns who qualify can get rebates for 50% of the cost of smart controllers for their sprinklers at utahwatersavers.com. These controllers activate sprinklers only when necessary “based on local weather and landscape conditions,” the website says.

If someone wants to transform their landscape to be more attractive while also conserving water, residents can take free and low cost online courses through the Localscapes at https://localscapes.com. The program helps Utahns landscape lawns effectively for Utah climates. Weber Basin supports it in collaboration with Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District and Salt Lake County, which started the initiative, Hess said.{iframe src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/obi7jcv_xyg” frameborder=”0” width=”560” height=”315”}{/iframe}

One of the recommendations of Localscapes — planting perennials — has also generated significant interest among Northern Utahns.

The free online perennials class offered by the Weber Basin district attracted 200 online attendees in the past week, Hess said.

“When we don’t have COVID-19, we typically have 50-80 folks that might register, and then you maybe get 30-60 that attend,” Hess said. “But right now ... everyone can do it from home. Schedules are more flexible, so we have a ton of interest right now in those classes.”

Growth in green thumbs around Northern Utah as a result of pandemic

These classes are offered weekly, Hess said. Those interested can register online or call the district at 801-771-1677 to register.

Residents can also call the district at that number with any questions about lawn watering and water conservation, according to Hess.

Contact reporter Megan Olsen at molsen@standard.net or 801-625-4227. Follow her on Twitter at @MeganAOlsen.

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