Overwatering is a very common issue with sprinkler systems. Sprinklers rarely need to be used before mid-May or after mid-September. Turf should be watered thoroughly and allowed to dry out before the next watering cycle. This cycle helps promote deep root growth and a healthy lawn.
Underwatering is most common during periods of dry hot weather. Monitoring on an ongoing basis and increasing run times and/or frequency can correct this problem. Your sprinkler system needs to be used more frequently and/or run longer during hot dry weather than during wet periods or cooler temperatures.
Here are some watering best practices you can follow.
- Water between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.—when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Midday watering tends to be less efficient because of water loss due to evaporation and windy conditions during the day. Watering in the evening isn’t a good idea either because leaves can remain wet overnight—an open invitation for fungus to grow. By watering in the morning, you give the leaves a chance to dry out during the day.
- Instead of watering for one long continuous session, try splitting the watering time into shorter periods and take 15-minute breaks in between each session. This will let the water soak in, while minimizing runoff.
- Adjust your irrigation system as the seasons and weather change.
- Periodically check your sprinklers to make sure everything is working properly. A clogged head or a torn line can wreak havoc on your landscape and water bill.
- Install a rain sensor. When you receive measurable rainfall your system will shut off automatically.
- If you have an older sprinkler system, consider switching to newer sprinkler heads. Advancements have been made to sprinkler heads in the last 20 years and newer models are much more efficient than older ones.
Mow your grass at a higher length.
- Mow grass to a height of 2 1/2 to 3 inches. Taller grass shades the roots and soil surface, which helps reduce the amount of water that is lost to evaporation.
- Dethatch and/or aerate your lawn. Lawn aeration helps the water penetrate the soil. Thatch build-up on the surface of your lawn can actually repel water.
- Add a layer of mulch to shrub beds. A layer of mulch, such as wood chips, bark, or even decorative rock, reduces water use.