Q. I live in an area that has plenty of water and it is inexpensive. Why worry about how much water I use?

A. The fact is that plants and lawn thrive on the right amount of water. If you over water turf it begins to suffer from oxygen deficiency. That means that it will start to take on a light green/yellow appearance. Many people assume these symptoms mean that it is drying out and water more! Another reason is that the lawn is always mushy and wet and cannot be walked or played on, or your mower will leave tracks in the grass which is unsightly.
 
In humid areas you will start to see problems with fungus and other diseases. People who over-water tend to use more fertilizer because they're constantly washing the fertilizer and nutrients out of the lawn. More chemicals are also applied to over-watered lawns to combat fungus and diseases caused by over-watering. Finally over-watering turf just encourages it to grow fast more, which only means more mowing.
 
Plants are another problem. When you over-water shrubs it takes a while for the symptoms to show up. The problem is that once you see the symptoms (pale sickly leaves), it is usually too late. Even if you've stopped watering the plant it will usually die. Watering efficiently is a wise and prudent practice wherever you may live.

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Q. I was told that an automatic system would save me water, but my water bills have gone up since I had it put in. Why?

A. In a perfect world automatic systems save water over hand watering under the following conditions:

  1. You were previously watering your whole yard by hand faithfully and regularly and kept the appearance near perfect.
  2. The system was designed professionally for high efficiency with high quality parts.
  3. The system was installed properly.
  4. A proper watering schedule was developed and input in the controller.
  5. The watering schedule is changed frequently to allow for seasonal weather changes.
  6. The system is inspected and kept in good repair.
  7. There is a rain switch installed on the system.

Very few automatic systems meet all of these conditions. Those that do should maintain good appearance and reduce water bills.

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Q. How long should I water?

A. That is a very complicated question. It depends on what you are watering, where you live, the soil type and the uniformity of your system. Consult a professional and have them develop a detailed custom schedule for your landscape. Use the calculators on tis website to create a peak watering schedule and then adjust the runtimes with the watering index.

The most common problem is people water too long and too frequently. A healthy turf should be able to go 2-3 days even in the hottest time of year between watering.

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Q. Is drip a good option for my yard?

A. Yes, No, Maybe. In most cases drip is an excellent option for shrubs of all types. It needs to be designed correctly and installed properly. If you have dogs that chew, many enjoy tearing the drip out of beds and playing with it. It can offer hours of playful enjoyment for your pets.  Drip waters in a way that most plants love deeply, slowly and without wetting the leaves.

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Q. I have different types of heads on my system. Can I water them the same way?

A. No, not usually. The two main types of heads are spray (or mist) heads and rotors. Rotor heads pop up and have a single stream that rotates. Spray heads have a fan or mist that is in a fixed pattern. Spray heads typically apply 3 times more water over a given area than rotors. Sprays and rotors should always be on different zones and water independently. Sprays only need to water for 5-10 minutes while some rotor zones need to water for 45 minutes to an hour.

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Q. I don’t want to re-program my controller every week. Is there an easier way?

A. Yes. Most newer controllers have a water percent adjust function. This allows you to simply change your watering times by a percentage with just one adjustment for the whole system. For example, let’s say your controller is set for hot July weather and now it is late August and is cooling off a bit. You can go to your controller and reduce the watering by 10%-20% with just a touch of a button.

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Q. We can send people to the moon. Can’t we come up with a more exact and hands-free way of watering lawns?

A. Yes, and we have. There are now controllers out there with sensors that can monitor the weather and soil moisture and make automatic adjustments to your sprinkler runtimes and days based on actual local conditions. Check with you local contractor or sprinkler supplies for options in your area.

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Q. What is Evapotranspiration (ET)?

A. This is a fancy word for plant water use. It is the amount of water that your plants use in a given time, usually measured in inches in the US. For example, your lawns (depending where you live) may use .15 inches a day, 1.05” inches a week or 4.65” inches a month (this may vary greatly by location and time of year).

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Q. How is ET used in a watering schedule?

A. If we know that our turf uses 1” of water per week, then we now know that we need to replace that 1 inch of water which was used. By calculating a sprinkler’s precipitation rate we can then determine how many minutes it will take to replace the 1 inch used that week by the plants. In other words, picture the soil as a bucket of water. As water is removed from our “bucket” we need to replace it. That is the essence of watering. Some people like to compare it to a check book. As you spend money from your account you need to make deposits. That is what we do when we calculate watering schedules.

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Q. What is a rain sensor?

A. A rain sensor (or rain switch) is a device that prevents your automatic system from operating after it rains. It simply acts like a switch and does not allow electricity to go to your remote electric valves after a certain amount of rain falls. They are adjustable from about 1/8” to 1” of rain. These devices are inexpensive and require little or no maintenance. They should be standard on any system.

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Q. Are there things I can do to my landscape to use less water?

A. Yes. A well planned landscape can reduce your water use considerably. You can:

  1. Plan your turf areas. Turf is fine and looks beautiful, but have a reason for it. Turf uses more water than shrubs, so don’t just plant lots of grass because you can. Have a reason.
  2. Choose plants that are native to your area and do well off of local rainfall. Your sprinkler system can then supplement when needed.
  3. Mulch your beds. This will help the soil retain water longer.
  4. Organize your planting areas so plants that have similar watering needs are near each other.
  5. Don’t over fertilize.
  6. Have your lawn aerated every couple of years.
  7. Have your soil tested and amended if needed.

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Q. Do I have to live with brown spots and sparse desert style landscape to water efficiently?

A. Absolutely not. It is possible to have a lush green landscape and still dramatically reduce your water use. Consult a professional to help you better manage your water use in a way that does not negatively affect your lifestyle.

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Q. What are signs that I am over-watering?

A. Watch for the following signs of over-watering:

  1. Check the street during and after an irrigation cycle. If there is runoff down the street and gutter then adjustments need to be made to your schedule.
  2. Mushrooms in your lawn.
  3. A pale, light green/yellow tint to your lawn.
  4. A mushy feeling when you walk across your lawn.
  5. Moss in your bed areas.
  6. Unhealthy looking shrubs.
  7. A need to fertilize more than usual.
  8. Mold and fungus problems with your lawn and shrubs.

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