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Water wisely with your irrigation system

Smart Irrigation Month

Here are some tips from the Irrigation Association on how to save water and money with your irrigation system:

Water Wisely

  • Get in the zone. Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and soil in that section. Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.
  • Consider soil type. Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.
  • Don't send water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings.
  • Water only when needed. Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.
  • Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool — typically between the evening and early morning.
  • Water more often for shorter periods. For example, setting your system to run for three, 5-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff.
  • Adapt watering to the season. Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. Or invest in a smart controller so your system can make these changes automatically.

Maintain and Upgrade your System

  • Inspect your system monthly. Check for leaks, broken or clogged sprinkler heads, and other problems. Clean clogged screens and micro-irrigation filters as needed.
  • Adjust sprinkler heads. Remove or correct obstructions that prevent sprinklers from distributing water evenly. Adjust sprinkler head positions and spray patterns to avoid watering sidewalks or structures and to provide necessary clearance over growing plants.
  • Check the pressure. Pressure can change over time and negatively affect system efficiency.
  • Inspect the system for leaks. Leaks are a huge water waster. A good contractor can perform regular maintenance checks for leaks, broken or clogged spray heads, and other problems. Ask them to show you common problems to watch for between visits.
  • Install a rain shutoff switch. These inexpensive sensors can be retrofitted to almost any system and help compensate for natural rainfall by turning off your system in rainy weather.
  • Consider "smart" technology. Climate or soil moisture sensor-based controllers evaluate weather or soil moisture conditions and then automatically adjust the irrigation schedule to meet the specific needs of your landscape.
  • Consider low volume, micro-irrigation for gardens, trees and shrubs. Drip (or trickle) irrigation, micro spray jets, micro-sprinklers and bubbler irrigation all apply a very small amount of water, slowly and precisely, minimizing evaporation, runoff and overspray.
  • Have your system audited. Hire a professional to conduct an irrigation audit and uniformity test to verify areas are being watered evenly and appropriately, and make necessary adjustments.
  • Winterize in colder climates. An irrigation contractor with specialized equipment will flush out water that could freeze and crack pipes, valves and sprinklers.
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