Gardening Tip: Using a Rain Gauge

Chaney Rain GaugeOne of the challenges to gardening in Phoenix is applying enough supplemental water so that our desert gardens and landscapes don’t shrivel up and die…especially in the intense heat of late spring through early fall.  That’s why our drip and sprinkler systems are so important.

I’m reminded of this because we’ve had a nice gentle rain falling for the last few hours…a much welcomed gift here in the Phoenix desert…and I turned off my drip system to save a little water.  But how do you know when you’ve got enough rain to skip a cycle or two?

I just use one of these easy-to-read magnifying rain gauge.  You can either stick it into the ground or tie it off to a fence post.  Just make sure there’s nothing overhead to interfere with rain collection.

The general rule is that you can skip a cycle if your rain gauge shows 1/2″ or more of rain.  But this is one of those “use your best judgment” things.  I’ll skip watering my veggies tomorrow, but probably not the following day.  Xeriscape plants, on the other hand, might be fine if I skip two cycles.

Check your irrigation timer, too.  Newer models have rain and humidity sensors built into them, so they’ll automatically shut off if they detect moisture and turn back on again as it dries out.   There are also more sophisticated rain gauges that work the same way that rain sensors do.


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