How do I water to maintain my home's foundation and landscaping?

Asked May 23, 2014, 12:39 PM EDT

We just moved to a house in North Fort Worth, Texas. Our new home has a sprinkler system on a sensor. I want to make sure I am doing the right thing for maintaining the home's foundation and landscaping and have read conflicting information on these topics. I have the following questions:

1. Should all the sprinklers around the house be set for the same amount of run time (e.g., all sides getting 15 minutes of watering twice weekly during spring), or should run times differ in different areas? If run times should differ, how should they differ?

2. How long should the sprinklers run when running two times per week during the various seasons?

3. Do sprinklers get water deep enough to keep the foundation moist, or is it necessary to install soaker hoses around the house to keep the foundation moist? I have heard that using soaker hoses can lead to over watering, causing foundation issues. How do I know what we need at our particular house?

4) If soaker hoses are recommended, how should they be installed and used?

Tarrant County Texas

1 Response

For water conservation, the City of Fort Worth offers a free sprinkler checkup. The city irrigator will come to your house and turn on each station to determine whether all the sprinklers are working correctly and then look at your controller to make sure the schedule is correct. Go to the City of Fort Worth website to request an irrigation/sprinkler audit/checkup.

In answer your questions 1 and 2, most sprinkler stations require different run times depending on sprinkler application rate, how much water the plants in the area require, whether the plants are newly planted or established, and the time of year.

Application rates vary from 1 to 2 inches per hour for spray nozzles and 0.5 to 1 inch per hour for large rotors. The infiltration rate of the soil also influences how to water because if the soil cannot absorb the water as fast as the sprinkler applies the water, the water runs off into the street or someone else’s landscape.

In an established landscape that maintains mulch under the shrubs, shorter run times will work. In newly planted landscape, a schedule of several short cycles on your days to water is best. Currently, Fort Worth allows watering two days a week between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. So on your days to water, if you water two short times in the morning after midnight and before 10 a.m. and two short times after 6 a.m. and before midnight, the soil will be able to absorb all the water and not allow runoff. This method will work fine as long as the system is working correctly and covering the areas properly. The city's sprinkler checkup will answer all these questions.

In answer your questions 3 and 4, if you are watering shrubs or other plantings around your house, you will not have to water the foundation separately. If you are not watering shrubs or other landscape around your home, a separate watering system using soaker hoses or drip tubing would benefit your foundation. Attach a drip or soaker hose to a garden faucet with a timer.