How to Program a Sprinkler Systems for Maximum Efficiency

With the weather warming up many of us turn our attention to our lawns. For those with in ground sprinkler systems it is important to review your watering schedule to make sure you are getting the most out of your watering sessions. In setting up your watering schedule there are several factors to consider.

Evaporation
It is best to water your lawn in the early morning hours to avoid evaporation. As the sun heats up the surface temperature of your lawn later in the day attempts to water your lawn’s roots will be in vain. The water will evaporate from the surface long before it reaches your lawn’s root system. Set your sprinkler system to begin its schedule around 5:00am to allow enough time to work around all the zones before the heat of the day.

Night Watering
Night watering is generally not recommended as it can lead to the growth of a variety of mildews and other harmful bacteria on your lawn. Molds and mildew like to grow on cool, wet areas of you lawn and watering at night helps to produce these conditions. If you are concerned with evaporation begin your watering schedule early in the morning before the sun is a factor, but late enough that the surface moisture eventually burns off in the daytime.

Days to Water
One of the biggest errors well-intentioned homeowners make is watering their lawn every day. Grass is a plant, and like most plants it gets the majority of its water from its root system. To encourage a deeper root system, and a healthier turf, your lawn should only be deeply watered a couple times a week. Deep watering involves running your sprinklers for longer periods during each zone, but less frequently. My sprinklers run three times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Saturday during the growing season (early spring). During the summer I drop back to twice a week watering on Wednesday and Saturday. On these days I begin watering around 4:00am or 5:00am and let the sprinklers run approximately twenty minutes per zone. The benefit of this watering schedule is the root system for your grass will grow deeper and deeper in search of water. By watering every day you are leaving much of this moisture near the surface, and encouraging a shallow root system.

Remember to check with your local water department to comply with any watering restrictions. Thanks to dry conditions this spring, many localities have put in place restrictions on what time of day you can water, and the days in which outside water usage is permitted. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

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