Have you noticed that your water bill can sometimes double during the summer?
Often more than half of water consumption is used outdoors to irrigate landscapes. Maintaining an efficient irrigation system is the most effective way to preserve water resources and save on your water bill during those hot summer months. PWSD provides both educational resources and hands-on assistance to help you get your irrigation system in check. Check out our watering guidelines.
Irrigation Audits: Slow the Flow
Are you struggling to wrap your head around your sprinkler system? PWSD and Resource Central partnered to provide you a no-cost sprinkler consultation. Resource Central Technicians will run a few tests to check your sprinklers’ efficiency and diagnose any problems your system might have. At the end of your consultation, you’ll receive a customized watering schedule designed to reduce water usage and keep your landscape healthy and beautiful all summer long!
System Maintenance & Management
Irrigation systems require routine maintenance – just like your car or bike. Here are some tips to help you steer away from the “set it and forget it” mindset.
1. Apply water efficiently according to weather, plant needs, and soil type.
Efficient irrigation starts with knowing how much water to apply and when to apply it. Maximizing the amount of water used by the plants reduces water lost to the atmosphere or runoff.
- Seasonal adjustments – if you manually operate your sprinkler control clock, it is essential that you change the scheduling frequently throughout the irrigation season to reflect seasonal changes in watering needs. See below for guidelines.
- Know when to turn your system off – avoid watering when it’s raining, windy, or during the hottest part of the day.
- Cycle and soak – water in multiple short cycles to avoid runoff, promote deeper roots, and maintain a healthier landscape. Divide your total run time into multiple cycles – as a general rule, start with three cycles. Wait 30 minutes to 1 hour in between each cycle.
- Practice watering guidelines – PWSD suggests a 3-day per week watering schedule with no watering between 10 am to 6 pm. Learn more about our watering guidelines.
2. Design systems with efficiency in mind – be smart from the start.
Consider efficiency from the start. It’s better to design "smart from the start" over retrofitting an existing system.
- Consider existing site conditions – adapt the landscape design to the current site. Consider factors such as slope, area, soil type, and microclimate.
- Choose the right sprinkler – different sprinkler types have different functions – from radius to application rate, to efficiency. In general, rotors are best for watering large areas, while fixed spray heads can work more effectively in smaller spaces. Rotors and rotating nozzles apply water more slowly, often making them more appropriate for slopes or heavy clay soils. Drip can be the most efficient option for watering planting beds and trees.
- Head-to-head coverage – this is a key concept for efficient irrigation design that ensures that the spray from each head overlaps and reaches the neighboring head(s). Head-to-head coverage improves spray uniformity and reduces brown spots or problem areas.
- Choose the right time to establish new landscapes – before installing new sod, consider that it will require more water than established turf as the root system develops. Consider installing sod in the early Spring to avoid establishment during the hottest months of the year when plant materials are most stressed.
3. Install SMART technology to support efficiency.
Irrigation technology has come a long way to support efficient water practices. While “smart” technology alone is not a substitute for proper management, it is a crucial component of water-efficient landscaping. PWSD provides rebates for approved irrigation equipment, including nozzles, rain sensors, and SMART controllers.
4. Manage irrigation systems appropriately through routine maintenance.
- Adjust sprinkler heads – sprinkler heads can often be the culprit of inefficient watering. Check heads routinely for misalignment, clogging, incorrect arc/radius, overspray, and obstructions.
- Be wary of leaks – system leaks often go unnoticed if they are hiding underground or your system runs at nighttime. The best way to monitor your system for leaks is to sign up for AquaHawk alerting.
- System start-up & winterization – proper maintenance at the start and end of the watering season is vital to an efficient system. During start-up, visually inspect the system while running each zone – check for cracks, leaks, misaligned heads, or other potential issues. Proper winterization is also essential for preventing problems come springtime.
The following guidelines are based on a 3-day per week watering schedule for traditional lawns. These times should be adjusted to reflect the weather, plant material, and irrigation efficiency.