Make Sure Your Sprinklers Sprinkle

Notice a ghostly mist lingering over your landscape? It’s the in-ground sprinklers screaming they are under pressure.

You’ve probably seen it before, clouds of a foggy mist spewing out of the in-ground sprinkler system. The problem is your sprinklers are watering the air instead of your actual landscape.

It’s called high pressure and there’s a reason our conservation consultants recommend fixing the problem with pressure-regulated sprinkler heads. They not only conserve water, but also improve the entire system’s performance — and using more efficient sprinkler heads can qualify you for a residential irrigation rebate.

sprinkler head

Typical sprinkler heads are designed for a running pressure of 30 pound-force per square inch or psi (45 for rotors.) If your SAWS irrigation consultant tells you the pressure is too high (in some cases 70 psi or more) then your sprinklers are vastly exceeding their design range and putting out much more water than intended, sometimes twice as much.

You’d think higher pressure would be better. But unfortunately, pushing more water through a pinhole doesn’t necessarily result in better coverage. It results in mist, instead of large drops that reach the ground. This ends up degrading irrigation efficiency, despite the increase in volume. In addition to the telltale fog and wind drift, it leaves behind visible dry spots meaning longer run times and even more water waste.

One of the simplest fixes for high pressure is regulating it at the heads by replacing every single internal body on an entire irrigation zone. The result is better distribution uniformity and sometimes considerable water savings.

Pressure-regulated sprinkler heads are typically labeled with “PRS” on the top collar. We maintain a list of qualifying products and a licensed irrigator will be familiar with the correct equipment, especially in cases of very high pressure which call for specific products.

Just email or call 210-704-SAVE to schedule a free irrigation consultation. Remember, to qualify for an irrigation rebate, a consultation is required before the work is started.


Picture of Brad Wier
Brad Wier
Brad Wier is a SAWS conservation planner. Years in South Texas landscaping and public horticulture gave him a lasting enthusiasm for native plants that don’t die when sprinklers -- and gardeners -- break down. He’d rather save time and water for kayaking and tubing. He is a former kilt model, and hears hummingbirds.
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