Watering Recommendations

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Welcome to WaterSmart Yard where you’ll find free weekly watering recommendations for your garden. You can also listen to these recommendations as a recording by calling 707-543-3466.

Water Recommendations

Current Irrigation Recommendations - Turn OFF Irrigation to Save Water!

Santa Rosa, along with the rest of Sonoma County, is experiencing severe drought conditions. On June 29, 2021, in response to state emergency drought regulations, the Santa Rosa City Council enacted Stage 3 of the City's Water Shortage Contingency Plan and issued a mandatory 20% community-wide water reduction each month. In order for Santa Rosa to achieve this critical water savings, please turn off your irrigation for the season. If your plants or trees are looking very stressed, hand water them when necessary.  

Most plants are in their slow-growth or dormant phase during the winter, and our seasonal rains provide all the water they need. Add a blanket of mulch to slow moisture loss from the soil and help protect root systems during cold weather. During extended dry periods, check newly planted, container and high-water use plants for stress and water if needed. Irrigating during the winter will increase your monthly sewer usage charges next year. This is because sewer caps are calculated during the winter months and it is assumed that only indoor water is being used during that time. Note, State law prohibits irrigating within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.

Irrigation Type Minutes
​per Week
# Watering
# Start
Grass (Pop-Up Spray) 0 0 0 A
Grass (Rotor / Impact) 0 0 0 A
Low Water Plants (Drip) 0 0 0 B
Moderate Water Plants (Drip) 0 0 0 B

*These watering recommendations replace soil moisture lost last week and do not look at predicted weather. The “Minutes per Week” recommendations assume an average irrigation flow rate (spray and drip). Your garden may need more or less water depending on your site conditions.

*Suggested run times are based on an irrigation efficiency of 100%. While drip irrigation is about 95% efficient, sprinkler efficiency varies greatly and is often 40 - 70%.

Monthly Lawn and Landscape Watering Schedule (PDF)

Adjusting Controller Settings Based on Watering Index

Irrigation Type Minutes *  (Peak Week) Summer Watering (Days/Start Times) Spring & Fall Watering (Days/Start Times)
Grass (Pop-up Spray) 45 3-4 days / 3 start times 2-3 days / 1-2 start times
Grass (Rotor/Impact) 120 3-4 days / 3 start times 2-3 days / 1-2 start times
Moderate Water-use Plants (Drip) 65 2 days / 2 start times 1 day / 1 start time
Low Water-use Plants (Drip) 32 1-2 days / 1 start time 1 day / 1 start time

*Suggested run times are based on an irrigation efficiency of 100%. While drip irrigation is about 95% efficient, sprinkler efficiency varies greatly.

If your timer has a "Seasonal Adjust" or "Water Budget %" option, you can use the Watering Index to adjust the schedule on your controller without having to adjust each watering time entry.

  • First, set your controller's season or budget to 100%
  • Then enter a complete program for a warm summer month's schedule (what July would need)
  • Next, adjust your controllers "%adjustment" with the watering indext above to match the current weather. This should be adjusted weekly.
  • You may want to consider adjusting the number of watering days and start times for your peak (100%) schedule in both the early and later part of the irrigation season.

Program Your Irrigation Controller

An irrigation controller can be intimidating but it’s simply a clock that turns your irrigation system on and off. Let us help create a watering schedule to match weather conditions and your plant's actual water needs.


Weather Data Source

Santa Rosa Water has two weather stations with the State of California’s CIMIS program:

  • Station #83 on Llano Road (West side of town)
  • Station #158 at the Bennett Valley Golf Course (East side of town)

 Weather data from these two stations are averaged and then used to create the WaterSmart Yard weekly irrigation scheduling recommendations.

Watering Trees

Click here for information on your to help your trees survive drought. Now is a great time to consider installing a graywater or rainwater harvesting system to irrigate your trees. See our rebates page for more information.

Trees are one of the most valuable elements in your landscape. Urban trees combat climate change, provide shade, clean the air, enhance public health, and contribute to vibrant, sustainable communities. 

Water trees gradually and deeply to ensure that your trees thrive. Apply water slowly and evenly to the tree’s root zone, saturating the soil to a depth of 12-18+ inches. Trees should be watered in multiple locations within the drip line (canopy) of the tree. For more detailed recommendations about tree watering, view Canopy’s recommendations for mature, and young trees. 

Use special care with Oak Trees: Valley Oak, Coast Live Oak, and Blue Oak do not tolerate irrigation in the dry months. Ideally, no supplemental irrigation should be applied to these trees except during exceedingly hot and dry, drought conditions. 

For more information on the benefits of trees and how to care for them, visit Canopy.

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