In the springtime, most people set their irrigation system controllers and forget about them. But actively managing your irrigation system is an integral part of the conservation and preservation of your lawn and landscaping.
Here are some guidelines to help you maintain your sprinkler system, conserve water (thereby reducing your water bill), and keep your yard healthy.
The ideal time to water your landscape is early morning. Depending on the number of zones your system has, we recommend starting the sprinkler system between 5 and 7 a.m. If you run it at night, the yard may still be hot, which leads to evaporation. And during the nighttime, fungus and plant-eating insects are most active.
When setting the run times on your controller, it is best to run longer intervals then to do frequent short run times. The average run time of a pop-up sprinkler head in a turf zone during the spring is about 10 to 12 minutes. In the summer, you may want to increase that to 15 to 18 minutes. Rotor heads average 20 to 30 minutes for run times during the spring but can be 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the zone and time of year.
Drip lines, depending on the type, can use anywhere from a half-gallon per hour to 10 gallons per hour. They commonly use 75-80% less water than a regular zone. Dripline run times are typically 20 – 30 minutes in the spring and as much as 45 minutes to an hour during the summer. Though, the timing depends on watering restrictions and location.
You can also refer to the City of Austin’s Irrigation Runtime Calculator.
New plantings may require more frequent watering to get established. Irrigation system recommendations are dependent on the types of plants, temperature highs, and the amount of rainfall we are receiving.
If you have YardDoc come out for an irrigation system inspection, we will help you customize run times.
Installing a rain sensor can help prevent the system from running immediately after a rain, but once it dries out, the system defaults to its programmed schedule.
The one thing a controller can’t do is stop your system from running if the Austin area has experienced heavy rain in days prior. Because of circumstances like this, irrigation system management is critical to water conservation and the health of your landscape.
Contact us to schedule an irrigation system inspection
Several issues can cause the need for sprinkler system repair. Most of the time, it will be a missing nozzle, misadjusted nozzle, or broken head. Broken sprinkler systems contribute to excessive runoff, which will exhibit itself as a line of water coming from around or near the head. They also can lead to dry spots in the landscape. When planting new plants in the landscape, it is not uncommon to hit an irrigation system line. Unrepaired lines lead to erosion and disproportionate watering in the damaged line zone.
As irrigation systems age, the components break or become worn. A system with damaged parts can lead to excessive watering to make up for the lack of coverage. Some people might increase the run times on their zones, not knowing that there is a break or damaged head somewhere in the yard. The result is a much higher water bill and less water available for others to use.
Watch for signs of system sprinkler problems like these.
We recommend annual servicing to keep your irrigation system running at peak performance. In addition to customizing run times and checking for problems, changes in your existing landscape – as it ages and matures – make updates to your irrigation system necessary.
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