Controlling Water Usage
How To Adjust Your Sprinkler System
Your turf grass lawn is approximately 85-90 percent water. How important do you think controlling water is? The answer is simple! In Colorado’s semi arid climate blue grass lawns may require up to 2 inches of water per week in the month of May. Knowing how much water your lawn receives from you sprinkler system is important if you want water more efficiently. Monitoring your water and adjusting your sprinkler system clock can be achieved by getting a rain gauge or a simple “coffee can” and checking how much water your system puts out in a given time frame.
How To Test Your Sprinkler System
Place your gauge in an area of your lawn. Set your “clock” or “timer” for 15 minutes and measure the amount of water you recorded. In a “pop-up” system you may get 3/10’s of an inch of water. After you have discovered the amount of water your system delivers for every 15 minutes you can then adjust the time for each zone to achieve the correct amount of output for the current conditions. Most communities in Colorado now have watering guidelines or restrictions that may limit the number of days per week you are allowed to water. Three days per week is the general rule.
Most communities also have information on how much water your lawn needs each week. Knowing how much water your sprinkler system puts out in a given time you are able to determine how long and how often to water your lawn. Also remember, it is best to water early in the morning or in the early evening. Watering between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. is generally NOT recommended or allowed due to evaporation.
One thing to pay attention to is runoff. Runoff occurs when your soil cannot absorb all of the water that your sprinkler system puts out. A process called cycle and soak is how you correct runoff. Cycle and soak is achieved by running each zone for shorter periods, multiple times on each watering day. This allows the water to soak into the soil where it can be used by the grass, while still allowing you to water the necessary amount on each of your watering days.
There are some other tools that can help you to water more efficiently, and many water districts offer rebates to encourage you to use them. One of these tools is a rain sensor. A rain sensor will turn off your sprinkler system automatically during and shortly after it rains. Smart Clocks are also available now. Smart Clocks connect to a weather station, either on your property or nearby, and use weather data to determine how much water your lawn is using and adjusts automatically to replace only the water that your lawn needs.
Remember to shut off your control if it is raining or if moisture has fallen a day or two before your “scheduled” watering day. Usually less water is needed in April & early May than in June, July and August.