Best Irrigation Practices
Q. How long should I set up my irrigation system for and how many times a week to water my lawn and beds?
A. This is a tricky question as no two irrigation systems are the same nor are two landscapes the same. What to set your irrigation system at will depend on what the water pressure is going into the system, what type of heads are used, and how many heads are on each zone. Other determining factors are the type of soil you’re watering, the type of plants or turf you have, and if it’s flat or sloped. The best advice I can give is to consult with a professional, but here are some tips you can use to do it yourself:
- When finished watering, the soil should be moist several inches below the surface and even deeper for larger plants.
- Disregard natural rainfall during the hot summer months. Showers usually produce mostly runoff and don’t do much to increase deep ground moisture.
- Newly installed plants will need a lot more water until established.
- If you have sloped areas, set your system to water that area for short periods of time 2-3 times during the watering cycle. Many new controllers have a “soak-cycle” that will help you with this programing.
- The general rule is that your lawn gets 1” of water per week. To determine how much water your system is applying, set out 4 – 5 low profile cans, like tuna cans, throughout the watering area for each zone. Run the zone for say 20 – 30 minutes, or until there is an average dept of 1” in the containers. This will tell you how long your system needs to run to get 1” of water onto your landscape. Knowing this, you can split that time up depending on how many times a week you think you should water. For example, if it took 30 minutes to get 1” and you plan to water 3 times per week, I would set that zone for 10 minutes each run. For weeks when it’s extremely hot, you might want to add a few minutes or subtract a few minutes in the cooler months.