Read your irrigation controller (timer)manual to understand its features.Learn how to adjust the controllerand change the setting when plantsneed less water. Replace lost manuals— many can be downloaded from themanufacturer's website. You will needthe model number of the controller. Change the controller battery at leastonce a year to preserve the schedulein case of a power failure. A powerfailure may cause the controller torevert to the default setting whichwill probably not water the correctamount.Adjust the sprinklers so that theydon't spray pavement, fences, andbuildings.Install a rain shut-off device.Check for leaks, sprinkler headmisalignments, broken pipes, andother system problems at least twicea month. If your automatic irriga-tion system normally runs at night orwhen you are unable to observe thesystem's operation, run the systemmanually for a short time during day-time. Repair with correct parts.Observe for signs of irrigation systemproblems such as dry spots, pond-ing, erosion, and soggy spots. Theseindicate the system may need adjust-ment.
WATER USEEFFICIENCY IDEAS
Water trees and shrubs less frequent-ly than lawns, deep soak occasionallyto promote deep rooting.Check soil moisture below surfacewith a soil probe or large screwdriver.Don’t assume the plants need waterjust because the soil surface looksdry.Water only during the late afternoon,night and early mornings to minimizeevaporation. Don’t water when windyor raining. Water shady areas less frequently. Use a hose timer to shut off automat-ically when watering with a hose endsprinkler.
Prune only to rejuvenate and restorethe health of the plant. If you mustprune heavily to keep a plant small,consider replacing it with a plant thatwill mature at a smaller size. Add compost to improve soil andspread mulch over garden beds toslow evaporation and reduce weeds. Use balanced slow-release fertilizers.The nutrient content, found on thepackage, is a set of three numberssuch as 10-10-10, 16-16-16, or 12-8-8.The numbers represent the percent-age of Nitrogen, Phosphorus andPotassium.Clean lters in sprinkler heads anddrip systems regularly. Use sprinkler heads with matchedprecipitation rates; don’t mix typesof sprinklers on one line.Allow for a ve minute recoverybetween station run times to ensureadequate water pressure to operatethe irrigation system.
Keep a written record of last year’swatering schedule near the control-ler unit and use it to base this year’sschedule. If you think the landscapeneeds less water than it receivedlast year, shorten the run times, orlengthen the time interval (days)between run times. Adjust irrigation controllers with theseasons. For example, start out inspring with about 50% of the waterthat will be used in summer. Be sureto turn the controller down in falland off (if possible) in winter. Usethe water budget or seasonal adjustfeature (%) on the controller to makeadjusting easier. Use low output sprinklers such asdrip, soaker hoses, and microsrpraywhenever possible. Use “cycle and soak” or multiple runtimes on the sprinkler controller.Dividing the total watering time intoshorter increments allows water tosoak in. Set a goal of no runoff.