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City of Bend, OSU Extension Service offer landscaping tips during a drought

(Update: Adding video)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Drought conditions are forecast to continue in Deschutes County this fall, extending the potential stress landscapes typically experience in peak summer conditions.

This puts strain on landscape plant material and increases dependence on local water resources. Here are some tips to help landscapes through an extended drought and improve water management.

Tips for Irrigation and Water Use

Provided by Dan Denning, Water Conservation Program Manager, City of Bend

  • Make sure sprinkler systems are running efficiently. Check sprinklers as they run to identify leaks or misdirected spray. Be sure the water coming out of sprinklers makes it to the plants that need it.
  • Brown or yellow spots in the lawn don’t mean a runtime is too short. It means the sprinklers are not covering uniformly. Adjust sprinklers placement to improve coverage.
  • Use cycle soak irrigation settings by splitting up runtimes into multiple shorter cycles. This lets water penetrate the soil and prevents runoff. It will maximize the availability of water to plant roots.
  • Follow City of Bend code for even/odd day watering to increase root depth and create a more resilient landscape. Addresses ending in an odd number should water on odd dates; those ending in even numbers should water on even dates.
  • Use high efficiency sprinkler equipment to save additional water. For examples of high efficiency irrigation visit the Hollinshead WaterWise Demo Garden or

Tips for Plant Choice and Maintenance

Provided by Amy Jo Detweiler, Professor and Community Horticulturist, Oregon State University Extension Service

  • New plants have a more shallow root system than established plants and require more water, so delay planting during periods of drought.
  • When planting, proper plant choices can set a landscape up for success in the challenging Central Oregon environment. Resources like the OSU Extension publication WaterWise Gardening for Central Oregon and the Hollinshead WaterWise Demo Garden can provide ideas.
  • Proper plant care and maintenance can help a plant endure the increased summer temperatures and decreased soil moisture. Start with improving your soil. Add three to five inches of mulch around plants. Try an organic fertilizer application to reduce rapid plant growth and water need on lawns.
  • Less water is lost to evaporation early and late in the day when temperatures are lower and there is less wind. Be sure to follow the City of Bend’s watering hours by not  irrigating landscapes between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Prioritize what to water during a drought. Vegetable gardens are often a top priority for water use. After that, consider watering trees first, especially mature trees. They become increasingly more valuable as they mature. Follow by watering the most important parts of the landscape, including shrubs and perennials. Water for lawns can be reduced. Lawns may show some browning, but they only need to be watered enough to keep them alive. Annuals and perennials are usually the least expensive and easiest plants to replace, so they should be at lowest priority.

For more or information and tips on water-wise landscaping during a drought, visit


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1 Comment

  1. Here’s a tip. Place a moratorium on building. You want me to save water so more people can move here? I’ve seen it before. First, you “conserve” water. Then, they rip out your lawn. Meanwhile, development continues unabated. I will not save a drop until construction is halted.

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