Sprinkler Timer Etiquette

So, we see a lot of wasted water due to poor watering practices. Denver water has some intense marketing strategies at the moment to get us to use less water, but truthfully the biggest difference you can make is properly setting your clock. Here are three guidelines to absolutely follow…

1. Water in the morning as close to sunrise as possible. At this time of day wind speeds are lowest and humidity is highest, both ensuring minimal evaporation. Additionally, at this time, water pressure is greatest ensuring proper function of the sprinkler heads. For example, we had one client watering at 10pm that switched to 4am watering times. Once he switched to the 4am watering times he woke up to water running off on his sidewalk. This is indicative of two things. First, he was losing all of that runoff to evaporation at night, hence why he had no nighttime runoff. Second, it taught him he was using more water than necessary in general, allowing him to cut back on the amount of water he was using while still achieving the same beautiful green grass he wanted.

2. Water no more than three days per week. In earlier posts we discussed common watering misconceptions, which transfer to here. You want to water less frequently, and for longer periods of time. This makes sure the water is getting deep in the soil. This is great for two reasons. The first, is that it teaches roots to grow deep, therefore making them stronger and able to withstand the hottest days of summer. Secondly, giving the grass 48 to 72 hours to dry out in between waterings only allows the surface of the turf to dry. This ensures the roots grow deep towards the water, but at the same time helps prevent insect infestations, bacterias, molds, etc. These usually become problems with prolonged wet turf.

3. If you have hilly parts of your lawn water each zone for half of the desired time, and have the system run through it a second time, the second start time being an hour after the first zone finished. Ultimately, you will put down the same amount of water. For example:

First Start Time: Zone 1: 4:00am
First Start Time: Zone 2: 4:10am
First Start Time: Zone 3: 4:20am
First Start Time: Zone 4: 4:30am

Second Start Time: Zone 1: 5:10am (One hour after zone one finished the first start time)
Second Start Time: Zone 2: 5:20am
Second Start Time: Zone 3: 5:30am
Second Start Time: Zone 4: 5:40am

I use this practice even on flat surfaces when I program timers. We have dense clay soils here in Colorado, so it’s hard for the water to soak in. Even if it is a flat surface we want to ensure getting the right amount of water to the right depth on every square foot of your turf.

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