Checkout Lane column about lawn sprinkler systems.
If you're still watering your lawn manually, you could be wasting water and money, according to Dan McCarthy, co-owner of Whitey & Mac's Landscaping Co. in Easton.
''The luxury of a sprinkler system is it's all measured and timed,'' McCarthy said. ''So somebody who puts a sprinkler out and watches the ball game and realizes, when the game's over, it's been on the whole time, is going to benefit.''
But before you start hunting for a contractor, it's best to do your research, said Erik Vaisey, owner of Vaisey Irrigation Inc. in Marshfield.
Vaisey recommends going with a certified member of the Irrigation Association, a national organization that trains, certifies and represents irrigation contractors. He said you should also make sure that the contractor you choose is insured.
''A lot of people don't know that if a company doesn't have insurance and somebody gets hurt on your property, you're liable,'' Vaisey said.
McCarthy said it is important to check where you get your water -- the town or a well -- and what kind of regulations exist.
For example, McCarthy said those connecting to their town water supply need to choose a contractor that can provide a licensed plumber to install a backflow preventer, a device used to keep yard run-off from contaminating groundwater.
McCarthy said sprinkler systems typically average $2,500 to $5,000 for 25 to 40 sprinkler heads.
Vaisey said price depends not only on the size of the yard but also whether there is existing landscaping or whether you're starting from scratch -- the latter being less expensive than the former.
According to Vaisey, different parts of a yard should be fitted with different sprinkler heads to make sure water isn't being wasted. He said shrubbery requires a different head than turf, for example.
Todd White, co-owner of Whitey & Mac's Landscaping Co., said it's also important to make sure your system has 100 percent coverage of the area you want watered. To do so, White says that the stream from each head should touch.
He also recommends spending the additional $150 for a rain sensor.
''It will cost a little more, but it will save a lot on water,'' White said.
The following are tips for planting at this time of year:
Potted plants: Summer is a fine time to plant potted plants as long as you keep them well-watered. If the soil is sandy, you might want to include some kind of composted material to increase the likelihood of success.
Know your plants: Make sure you're locating your plants in places where they can thrive. For example, rhododendrons grow best in the shade, while black-eyed Susans do well in full sun.
Wait until later in the year to move plants that are already in the ground: Transplanting is only marginally successful at this time of year because of the heat. If you must do so, make sure your plant has a large root ball and plenty of water. But it's best to wait until the fall.
The Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Mass.
Source: Anne Crothers of Manhasset Gardens, a landscaping business in Kingston.
A.J. Bauer may be reached at email@example.com.