Adjust your irrigation controller

Recent cool days remind us that it’s too early to turn on your irrigation system. If yours is on, remember we’re still in Stage 2 — be sure to adjust the clock one hour ahead on the controller.

As we enter the growing season, it’s important to maintain proper irrigation by adjusting your system controller to accommodate daylight saving time.

Most new controllers do this automatically, but older versions still require a manual adjustment. Newer models will automatically ask for time, date and year once daylight saving time kicks in, while older models will require you to remember to reset it. Review your user manual to see if your controller makes the change automatically.

And while you’re at the controller, change the battery for backup of the time display. This ensures the controller keeps the correct time in case of a power failure. It is found behind the display panel and is usually a 9-volt battery. It’s good practice to change the battery of the controller and your smoke detector at the same time.

Also, much like checking your smoke alarm, this is a great time to evaluate your controller’s settings.

  • First, check the start time to be sure it’s within Stage 2 permitted watering times of 7-11 a.m. and 7-11 p.m. For simplicity, only one start time is necessary. For effective and efficient irrigation, the total run time per zone can be split between morning and evening.
  • Likewise, check the run times of your zones. SAWS recommends setting sprays from 12 to 20 minutes and rotors at 25 to 30 minutes depending on the 5 “Ss” — shade, slope, soil, season and species. Because of its design, drip irrigation can run 45 to 60 minutes every other week if beds are properly mulched.
  • Finally, because of the cool days and nights during the dormant season, your irrigation system should be in the OFF mode or else have the Seasonal Adjust percent at 20 percent.

Getting to know your controller’s settings will not only save water, but will also save money. So spring forward with the intent of saving our most precious resource.

Picture of Adolph Garcia
Adolph Garcia
Adolph ‘Marty’ Garcia is SAWS’ numero uno, top dog, the go-to guy for all things irrigation and has the experience (that would be 35 years) and professional memberships to back up such a stellar reputation. Not only is he a SAWS senior conservation consultant, but he also holds a Texas irrigators license, in addition to a plethora of other credentials. (Did we mention he’s a licensed plumber, too?) Teaching people about water issues is his passion, second only to America’s pastime – baseball – and the hot dogs, pretzels and beer that go with it.
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