Update Your Sprinkler System’s Controller
Billions of gallons of water are wasted every day from inefficient landscape watering. Newer, more efficient irrigation-control technologies use local weather and landscape conditions to tailor watering schedules to the conditions in your yard. For example, a rain and freeze sensor automatically shuts off your irrigation system during rain or freezing temperatures. The TCEQ has a Landscape Irrigation guide which has additional information on watering efficiently.
Want more landscaping ideas? Check out the TCEQ landscape publications, which have great information about environmentally friendly yard care.
Setting Your Irrigation System for Optimum Efficiency
Water .75 to 1.0 inches every time you water, watering until soil is moist at least 4″ deep in flowerbeds and deeper below turf. (One hour or more after watering, dig down with a screwdriver or other tool to check.) This will take several watering cycles with 45 minutes to an hour between each cycle to avoid losing water to runoff.
To set your timer:
- In each zone, run your sprinkler system until you begin to see runoff, then immediately turn off the water. This will tell you how long a cycle you can run in that zone without wasting water.
- Place tuna or cake pans between sprinklers for a period of time in each zone to learn how long it will take to get one inch of water. Be sure to run in cycles to avoid runoff!
- Water a total of .75 to 1.0″ water once per week in short cycles are needed in that zone. Leave 45 minutes to an hour between cycles to give time for water to be absorbed.
- Extend time between watering as long as possible to allow time for roots to stretch deeper for moisture.
Signs of moisture stress:
Plants wilted in the morning; turf turning off color with dull purplish cast, leaf rolling or slight browning off, footprint tracks left when walked on. If you see these symptoms in just a few spots, water those few spots with a hose. As other parts dry down, then water the zone.
When more frequent watering might be needed:
If you have shallow soil, you may have to water more often in turf areas until you are able to build soil depth by using top dressing spring and fall.
In mid-summer extreme heat, there may be such high evapo-transpiration that you must water twice a week depending on your choice of plants and how successful you have been watering infrequently to develop deeper roots on your turf.
Notes: Shrubs and trees should be deeply soaked every three to four weeks during the dry season.
Trees: with pencil-sized stream, water area midway truck to drip-line and a little beyond. Divide into areas like face of clock, two hours or more each area. Keep moving around. Check moisture depth.
Check your watering system monthly. Be sure someone has access for your watering system when you are away from an extended time to adjust as necessary.
For assistance in programming your irrigation controller, call Customer Care at (512) 930-3640, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.