This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

December 4, 2016

Turning back, and then turning off your garden's automatic watering system in December

If you live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, like I do, you know how hot it gets in the summer, and how important it is to have an automatic watering system. Mine is a simple one, which uses timers that run on batteries. And there are only two things that my timers do: frequency and duration.

Frequency means how often the water comes on, like every day, or every hours. Duration is for how long it stays on each time, like for 10 minutes, or 30 minutes. I generally leave the duration the same at 15 minutes, and in the heat of the summer, the water comes on every day, and then as the weather gets a little cooler, I switch it to 48 hours, then 72, hours, the once a week.

It's been crazy hot this year in Phoenix, so I've left the frequency on at 48 hours. And then suddenly, wham, it's winter cold, and I've switched it to once a week. Right around Christmas I turn the water off completely, and don't turn it on again until February, or late January. Phoenix tends to get light rain in late December and in January, which I call "Christmas rains", and for my bulbs I'll get out there and hand water every few days in the winter.

My garden uses very little water, and of course I don't have grass, so I don't need to use the watering system at all in the winter. This not only saves me money, and conserves water, but my plants don't want water when it's cold, especially my cycads, which can die from root rot by having their feet in cold water.

I've been using this system for over twenty years now, and every once in a while I think maybe I should invest in a more expensive system. But this system works great, and when the timers fail (which they do!), I just get another one. I keep a spare timer sitting around. And I keep plenty of batteries around, too. It's a simple system, but it works for me, and the plants love it.
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