Kill the Sprinklers Now

Before you shriek with horror at the thought of not watering your landscape, here’s the chilling truth: turf fungi could come creeping in when you least expect it!

Fall weather in San Antonio can be tricky — from warm, cold or wet to all three in one day. But don’t let that distract from one of the best treats of all: the end of weekly irrigation for the year.

Those already in the know will nod wisely, but for others this fact may cause shrieks of horror. Turn off the sprinklers? But everything will die!

No tricks, just treats. This is the end of the warm growing season. With shorter, cooler days, warm season grasses like Bermuda and St. Augustine are already going dormant, trees will drop their leaves, and perennials will finish up their growth for the year. This means their water needs decrease significantly.

Plus, watering more than once a month inevitably leads to pockets of brown patch or worse, take-all root rot. Turf fungi love it when people water during cool, wet months in the late evening and early morning … bwahaha!

Over the next five months, a half-inch of rain once a month usually suffices for an established landscape. In the event of a dry month of 90-degree temperatures in January — this is San Antonio, after all — you might run the sprinklers once. Some homeowners dial down the seasonal adjust to 10 percent or even 5 percent, just to briefly open the valves once a week.

But as for weekly irrigation, you won’t need to do that until next March or April, depending on weather. Until then, you can cut your outdoor watering to almost zero. In fact, it pays to do so. Here’s why: SAWS sewer charges are based on your average winter water use. That means the less water you use from mid-November to mid-March, the lower your monthly sewer service charge will be starting in March or April 2021.

So while you’re setting up candles, ghosts and candies in the yard, stop by your irrigation system controller and put it to rest for the year — and turn it off.


Picture of Brad Wier
Brad Wier
Brad Wier is a SAWS conservation planner. Years in South Texas landscaping and public horticulture gave him a lasting enthusiasm for native plants that don’t die when sprinklers -- and gardeners -- break down. He’d rather save time and water for kayaking and tubing. He is a former kilt model, and hears hummingbirds.
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