Stay Home, Water Wisely

Use this extra time at home to get a handle on your sprinkler system and just how often it’s running. Follow our tips to make sure it’s watering efficiently.

With predictions of warm spring weather on the way, it’ll be too easy to use a lot of water in a hurry if you start running sprinklers pell-mell. 

Use this extra time at home to get a handle on your sprinkler system and make sure it’s set to minimal basic settings. 

Here’s a few tips to start off the watering season with conservation in mind.

Spring cleaning. Remember to thoroughly weed the sprinkler controller before you turn the automated program on in spring. Remove any extra days, programs and start times — you’ll want to water only one day per week. Keep an eye on it the first week to make sure it’s only running once a week; if your system is coming on twice, that’s way more than necessary this time of year.

Use stay home to your advantage. On the bright side, having all these eyes at home lets you keep an eye on the irrigation system so you’ll notice any unexpected watering. If you’re not an irrigation programming expert, just run the sprinklers manually until you get a feel for what they do. If you don’t trust it, keep it turned off. Simply activate it on the day you expect it to run, and turn it off after it stops cycling.

Use the Flume. If you’ve taken advantage of SAWS’ water sensor rebate, you’ll be able to tell exactly when water’s coming on at your property, and how much runs through the meter when the sprinklers are on — the spike in water use will show up right away on the sensor. But don’t panic, it’s normal for sprinklers to use more water than anything inside the house. When used correctly, a water sensor will let you know if the irrigation system is running more than you intend. (A single irrigation cycle typically uses 2,000 gallons, and sometimes much more depending on the size of the system.)

Start off April at 75 percent. At this time of year, sprinklers can be run on minimal settings, if at all (grass doesn’t really start growing in earnest until late April). Seasonal adjust lets you turn the program up and down easily on many sprinkler controllers.

Teach your kids about water conservation. Remember, a hand-held hose will always use much less water than sprinklers or an in-ground irrigation system because the person holding it tends to apply water only where it’s needed.

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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