Fall Back and Turn Down Your Irrigation Controller

The end of Daylight Saving Time means setting your clocks back one hour. It’s also the perfect time to dial back your irrigation controller. Your landscape and your wallet will thank you!

For many of us, fall is the best time of the year. It comes in the form of cooler and pleasing temperatures. As you go through the normal routine this weekend of setting the clocks back one hour, don’t forget to adjust your irrigation controller, too.

Take a moment to size up your landscape’s water needs. The days are shorter, the amount of sunshine decreases and many plants lose their leaves and prepare for dormancy. Plants don’t absorb as much water and the soil evaporation rate drops significantly. Although plant roots continue to grow throughout the winter, without leaves they don’t have a great need for hydration.

Another bonus: SAWS sewer charges are based on your average monthly water use during three complete billing cycles from mid-November to mid-March. It’s called Winter Averaging and it determines your sewer bill for the rest of the year. Watering your landscape less throughout the dormant season can add up to big savings throughout 2020.

To reduce your water use:

1. Adjust the run times.

Reduce all the run times by ½ or less. For example, for a lawn in full sun, decrease the run time from 22 minutes to 11 minutes.

2. Use the seasonal adjust.

If your controller has a Seasonal Adjust [Seasonal %] on its controller face, then use it to reduce all settings by 50 percent.

3. Turn it off run it manually.

In most years, natural precipitation supplies almost all the water a plant requires to survive and grow. There is seldom a need to turn on your irrigation system. If the rainfall is below historic averages, then you may run it manually.

To minimize water needs and discourage weeds, apply two inches of mulch. Also, add compost in the next month to turf and bed areas to increase water infiltration and soil adsorption.

Not sure how to accomplish all of this? SAWS conservation consultants provide free year-round, water-wise advice for the home, landscape and sprinkler system. Call 704-SAVE (7283) or email us to schedule an appointment.

Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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