This story is part of our Be Water Wise series. Each week we will be educating Utahns on water usage and conservation. Special thanks to The Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District and Cynthia Bee for helping coordinate information. 

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Cooler temperatures are finding their way into Salt Lake County and while your lawn isn’t craving Pumpkin Spice lattes and cute fall boots it is still in need of some attention.

Most residential grasses in Utah are Kentucky Blue Grass and Fine or Tall Fescue, all of which are “cool season” grasses. With that in mind, Utahns need to manage their landscapes by slowly increasing and decreasing their watering schedules with the change of seasons.

As we have learned in previous Be Water Wise articles, 65% of home water use in Utah is used to water landscapes. Most families are surprised to discover they use more water outdoors for the 5 months of landscape season than they’ll use indoors for the entire year.

Unfortunately, some of that outdoor use is unnecessary overwatering. This generally occurs when residents don’t know how often they should be watering or simply forget to reprogram their sprinklers as the seasons change and watering needs decrease.

“A couple of big water-saving opportunities are the ‘shoulder seasons,’ spring and fall. Many people begin watering too early in the spring and continue watering for too long into the fall,” says Amanda Strack, Conservation Supervisor with Utah Water Savers. “The goal is to keep the number of waterings consistent with the precipitation and utilize the naturally occurring water that we hopefully get early and late in the season.”

Landscape experts in Utah advise beginning to reduce lawn watering each week throughout September to slowly prepare your lawn for the end of the watering season. They say the watering season should typically end around the first of October regardless of when secondary water shut-off for your area is.

Utah Water Savers points out that plants, like people, grow more strongly when forced to stretch out of their comfort zones.

“Dialing down our water use in the fall isn’t just about water conservation, it’s a key factor in plant health,” says Stack. “If we continue to water our landscapes like it was still July, then simply shut off the water at the end of the season, we’ll create stress for the lawn, leaving it more vulnerable to environmental stresses during the winter.”

Guess what? Mowing helps conserve water. Residents should continue to mow the lawn until it stops growing around mid-October. Experts point out that while homeowners should use the highest setting on their mowers during the growing season, the final mow should be one notch lower; this helps reduce the amount of dormant lawn that can cause snow mold over the winter.

This is a great time to reseed areas of lawn that could use a little help or, better yet, start looking at lawn reduction options. Utahns are still eligible for incentives for making changes that increase water conservation. Check out the Localscapes website for tips and tricks or register to attend a class that can help you become a Localscapes expert.

Experts say early fall is the best time of year to plant and encourage homeowners to take advantage of end-of-season sales and add some new vegetation to their landscapes. They remind you to hand-water those new shrubs and trees to ensure they get established properly but caution not to overwater the entire landscape area by continuing to run sprinkler cycles to accomplish it. Deep watering new plantings twice a week with a garden hose should be sufficient.

The Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District offers a basic watering guide for Northern and Central Utah to help residents make decisions on watering needs. There is also a weekly watering guide from the Utah Division of Water Resources that recommends the number of waterings for landscapes in each county based on the weather forecast, as well as when to start and stop supplemental landscape watering. They also share the guide on their social media pages weekly for those who prefer a quick reminder.

“Another useful way to manage the water on your landscape is to invest in a smart controller, “reminds Strack. “A cash rebate of $75 is available to all property owners in Utah who switch from their existing controller to WaterSense-certified smart controller.”

Remember, there are a myriad of experts in Utah who can help answer the tough landscape questions Utahns have. Residents can also visit local Water Conservancy District websites, stop by a local Conservation Garden (currently three locations: West Jordan, Layton, and St. George), or reach out to a USU Extension agent from your county to get great local advice.