Here are some of the irrigation management FAQs (frequently asked questions) we’ve had from clients over the years.
How do automatic irrigation systems waste water?
First they can waste water when they are not zoned properly. For example, if a turf and a planted area are zoned together, then the plants will receive excessive water because they are being covered at the same time as the turf which typically requires more water. Another big issue is weather. In the spring and fall, your landscape will require much less water than it does in the summer and the actual demand for water will vary day to day. If scheduling adjustments are not being made on a regular basis (preferably daily), the amount of water being applied is often excessive.
How often & for how long should I run my sprinklers?
This depends on what is happening with your landscape and the weather conditions at the time. There is no way to accurately predict what your landscape needs because the demand for water can vary greatly from year to year. The only accurate way to make this adjustment is to have a controller that delivers water based on what is happening at the time and is programmed for your specific landscape. This insures that the water applied reaches the root zone of the plants in question.
How do I know if I am applying the correct amount of water?
A Water Usage Analysis will compare what you actually used to what was required by your landscape over a specific period of time. The analysis takes into account all of the factors that determine how much water your landscape needs as well as all conditions pertaining to how effectively your irrigation system applies water.
How can my sprinkler system automatically make adjustments to insure it is applying the amount of water my landscape requires?
A very effective way is to install a controller that make daily adjustments based on a concept called ET (Evapotranspiration). ET is a measurement of the passive water loss from soil by evaporation and the active water removal by the plant community. It can be accurately calculated by using the following four factors provided by a standard weather station (temperature, wind, humidity, & solar radiation).
How can I be sure that all of the water I am applying is reaching the roots of the turf, flowers, or shrubs in my landscape?
Assuming that you are applying the exact amount of water your landscape requires, your run time is a function of your PR (precipitation rate) and root volume. The number of starts that are required to make sure all of the water reaches the root zone is determined by soil texture, slope, and runoff potential. Getting the amount of water correct is just part of solution. You must know how to apply it or you must be using an irrigation controller that takes all of these factors into account.