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ASK BURTON: Q: How can I ensure that my irrigation system is working properly and that I am getting the most from my “watering dollar”?

Posted on July, 27

A. Sprinkler systems make our lives as gardeners much easier, but they’re not a panacea for all ills. In particular, more is not always better. Here are a few useful tips for getting the most of your watering dollar.
1. Measure how much water your sprinkler puts out per hour. Each and every station on your sprinkler system is likely to have a different rate per hour, as each station will likely have a different length of pipe, and different number of (sometimes different types of) sprinkler heads. Put several flat bottomed containers out in each sprinkler zone and measure how long it takes to fill them to 1/2″ deep. If you do not want to give your sprinkler any more attention than this, this is how long each section should be run on average; write this length of time for each station inside your sprinkler box to refer to later. One to two waterings a week are as much as any established lawn should need.
2. Newly installed plants need some hose watering! Sprinkler systems are great to reduce our weekly labor in the yard, but they’ll rarely water newly installed plants enough unless you’re over watering everything else. Supplement sprinkler watering with the hose for all newly installed plants as needed.
3. A useful web tool put together by some very smart people…Texas A&M Agrilife Extension has a free webpage that can tell you how much water your established lawn and landscape needs by your zip code, based upon local weather conditions. You’re likely to be pleasantly surprised at how your established lawn and landscape requires less than you thought, and your watering bill will be a lot less painful as a result. You’ll have to run your sprinkler system manually to do this, but they’ll helpfully send you email or text reminders to notify you when you should run your sprinklers. Look it up at www.watermyyard.org.
4. You could install a smart sprinkler controller! If it’s difficult to find time to set watering times based on that information every week, you can purchase a smart sprinkler controller for almost all sprinkler systems to control your watering automatically based on the same weather data. Given the cost of our local water, this is an upgrade that can easily pay for itself in a year or two, and you’ll be using the water we all need more wisely. Our landscape team can install this for you! Contact them at (972) 475-5888 Ext. 119 to see how Oliver, our licensed irrigator (LI#21683) can help you.