UCCE Master Gardeners of Sacramento County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of Sacramento County

Ultra WEL soil moisture monitoring

Home » Fair Oaks Horticulture Center » WEL Gardens » Ultra WEL » Moisture Monitoring

In these days of limited water availability, the irrigation water applied needs to more closely match the amount plants actually need (or can get by with). A major challenge gardeners face is knowing how much water is in the soil in order to determine how often to water.

Soil probe<br>(click to enlarge)
Soil probe
(click to enlarge)
To check soil moisture, dig down or use a soil probe.
Soil sampling tube<br>(click to enlarge)
Soil sampling tube
(click to enlarge)

Or use a soil sampling tube.

New controller and soil monitoring technology is allowing gardeners and professional landscape managers to water on the basis of soil moisture or evapotranspiration (weather-based), or both.

Watermark moisture sensor<br>(click to enlarge)
Watermark moisture sensor
(click to enlarge)
Soil moisture in the Ultra WEL garden will be monitored at two depths in each of four locations, using Watermark soil moisture sensors (Irrometer Co.) and a monitoring box.

Along with eyes watching for plant stress, moisture sensors will allow us to “see” the soil moisture (in centibars) to help know when to water next. In the other water-efficient landscape areas, the “smart” controller, which is linked to the Fair Oaks “CIMIS” weather station (in Phoenix Park), will control the irrigation (for more information, visit www.cimis.water.ca.gov).

To see graphs of readings from the Ultra WEL soil sensors, and those of the edible landscape areas in the other parts of FOHC, click on the files below:

Irrometer WaterGraph - Ultra WEL 3-30 to 5-8-16 (PDF)

Irrometer WaterGraph - Ultra WEL 4-24 to 5-8-16 (PDF)

Irrometer WaterGraph - edible areas 4-8 to 5-8-16 (PDF)

Irrometer WaterGraph - edible areas 4-24 to 5-8-16 (PDF)

What the abbreviations on the graphs mean:

Ultra WEL box: ByBox = by the Artemesia by the post with the monitor box; Mound = on the east side of the Heat Lab mound; GrStd = grass planting with standard drip irrigation; GrEco = grass planting with Eco-Wrap irrigation.

Grape Arbor box: Arbor = under the grape arbor about 10’ from the box; Citr = citrus tree just to the right of the citrus valve & electrical outlet; Blue = blueberry in the center of the row by the main arbor; Vine = center of vineyard row by veg. garden.

4145 Branch Center Road, Sacramento, CA 95827       Master Gardener Phone:  916.876.5338       Fax:  916.875.6233

Webmaster Email: mgsacramento@ucanr.edu