Sprinkler Timer Settings for the Future

The season is over, we have been done blowing out sprinklers for a few days now. As we go into winter, everyone does different things with their sprinkler timers: they leave them in the auto position, turn them to off, or unplug them entirely. What you choose is entirely up to you… Here are some details of each below, and then some recommendations going forward.

Auto- Some experts say leaving the timer in the “auto” position is best. Why? Because each day the system is set to “run” it will open and close the valves accordingly. This apparently keeps them in the best possible shape and prevents them from sticking. I have no opinion on whether or not I agree. Additionally, leaving it in this “auto” position obviously utilizes electricity, which is wasteful. I KNOW, it’s not that much, but still. Just give it some thought. (Water will not come out as you should have the master irrigation valve shut off)

Off- This is where I leave mine, although I am considering unplugging it. In the off position, the timer will keep all of its settings, which is nice for the following season. Additionally, it doesn’t use so much electricity as the setting above, except to simply say “Off” and store your settings.

Unplugged- This is starting to make the most sense to me with a small amount of preparation. It seems the least wasteful, and all you need to do is take note of your settings. (The time per zone, watering days, start times, etc.) This is assuming you know how to work your way around the timer, which I know nearly everyone tells me they hate to touch it. (I understand, before I got into this business they pissed me off like crazy, excuse my language.

Now, for some changes I want in the future… I am going to employ some strategies in order to help our clients save water, and truly hone, (home?) in their system’s efficiency. First, we need to record all of our settings as listed above. This part is simple. Record the time per zone, start time(s), and watering days. The time per zone is most important, and whether or not you have multiple start times like I typically suggest. What I also want recorded is the quality of the grass at each zone. I started thinking about this when I had a client with some terribly long lawn, and some dead. Record if the grass has been unreasonably long, not growing, brown, dead, or any other descriptions you may choose to use. Without getting too sidetracked, I am going to attempt to get everyone on my schedule in terms of when to change your watering schedule, which is only twice per season, excluding adjustments according to the health of that grass zone.

Now, you have everything recorded… It should look like this…
Zone 1. 15 minutes. Two start times at 3am and 4:30 am, MWF, overly rapid growth all season.
Zone 2… Blah Blah

Now, simply keep this info by your timer. The reason we are recording it is because it is highly unintelligent to adjust your zone time in the middle of the season. Why? Assuming you use the same amount of water all season, April and May we experience explosive growth, June strong growth, July and August slow growth September explosive growth, October slow growth. You will struggle to adjust it properly with these fluctuations we experience. We want to keep all growth the same. You do not want to cut more than 1/3 of the blade down at once. So, in the months of explosive growth, we need to cut back watering, then increase it for other months, etc.

For next season: Adjust each zone accordingly. If zone 1 grew rapidly, cut it back by 20%. Maybe from 30 minutes per day to 24. Use your best estimate for this, it’s not math, although I wish it was. Zones that looked poor, increase their times. And, as before, record what new times you are using and STICK to it all season… And read below about changing the amount of days to water throughout the season…

In May I am watering only two days per week. I keep the time per zone the same, but don’t water three days. June, July and August, I bump it up to three days per week. Increasing the time doesn’t help as two days per week isn’t enough. September back down to two days a week, and October as needed, and probably off by early to mid month.

Here is me and my brain… Blah Blah Blah. Sorry.

I have a huge goal next season. I want everyone to record their watering times, we will do a pressure test for your house, and then we can calculate how much water each individual home saved, and then figure it on a grand scale. One homeowner can’t make a huge difference, but a large group sure as hell can!

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