Save water and grow a healthy lawn and landscape with a proper irrigation schedule. An automatic sprinkler system makes watering easy, but you can't just set it and forget it. Adjust your schedule as plants become established, seasons change and rain or freezing conditions occur. Use the Simple Irrigation Plan to get started with a good schedule. Here are a few more helpful guidelines to help you reduce water use while maintaining a great looking landscape.
BASIC CONTROLLER FEATURES
Stations refer to the valves that turn on the water to irrigate zones in your landscape. Plants with similar water needs should be grouped together to maximize water efficiency.
- Consider the start time, which is the time when a specific valve will open to irrigate a zone. Watering early in the morning is best and using multiple start times will help reduce runoff from compacted or clay soils and slope. Using multiple start times is the "cycle and soak" method.
- The run time is the number of minutes a specific valve will stay open to water a zone. Take note of the type of sprinkler head you have in each zone to help determine the run time. Sprays deliver about 1.5 inches per hour while rotors use about 0.5 inch per hour.
- A program is a group of zones or stations that share the same start time. Typical controllers have three or four programs, A, B, C and D. They allow you to run different valves on different days with separate run times. You can group similar zones under a program like adding all pop-up spray zones under program A and zones with drip irrigation under program B.
- The seasonal adjust or percentage adjust feature automatically adjust the run times with the change of the season. For example, in July you'll set the seasonal adjust feature to 100 percent. As the weather cools, you decrease the percentage to reduce the run times without reprogramming the controller.
- The off position stops all programs from running. The programs will be saved and it's a great way to stop irrigation during rainy or freezing conditions.
HOW TO PROGRAM YOUR CONTROLLER
First, turn the dial to date and time. Use the arrows and the +/- buttons to input the day, month, year and time. You only have to do this step once.
- Next slide the program toggle or program select button to A to Program A.
- Move the dial to "start times" to set the time you want the irrigation system to come on. It's best to water early in the morning. Set multiple short start times to avoid runoff on clay, compacted soils and sloped areas.
- After setting the start times, move the dial to set run times. Remember, if you set multiple start times, break up the total run time. If you have three start times and want to run a station for 12 minutes, set the run time for 4 minutes.
- Set your watering days under the "advanced watering cycles" or "set days" to water for odd or even based on your address.
- Repeat the first steps for Program B and C for other zones that require different watering frequencies, like turfgrass or flowerbeds.
- Set the dial to "auto run"
CONTROLLER MANUFACTURER LINKS
Your controller features may vary slightly from the above. Online guides specific to your controller can be found on each of the manufacturer websites for your brand of controller.
- Don’t mix sprays and rotors on the same zone as this can lead to under-watering.
- Use the same manufacturer nozzles and rotors on the same zone.
- Make sure you have head-to-head coverage with your sprinklers.
- Check your water pressure. If your sprinklers are producing a fine mist, your system’s pressure is too high. You can install pop-up sprays with in-head pressure regulation.
- Check out manufacturer websites to know how much water your sprinklers are putting out.
- Consider installing a soil moisture sensor, smart irrigation controller or rain/freeze sensor.
- Irrigation systems with automatic timers use about 47% more water than the average household. To maximize efficiency, consider upgrading to a WaterSense® labeled irrigation controller that can measure moisture in your soil, turn itself off on rainy days and prevent overwatering. WaterSense® product list.