Irrigation Mistakes

Find out how to check your irrigation controller settings and avoid the most common programming mistakes.

Top 3 Mistakes

Although leaks and bad design are rampant in irrigation, the biggest single source of water waste occurs where people least expect it — right at the control box.

Mistake #1 – Multiple Programs

A single controller can run multiple scheduled programs, identified on-screen with letters A, B, C, etc. (Driplines, parking lots, and ballfields, for example, are often set to water on different schedules.) To check all of your own watering schedules, look for the “PGM” button to switch between programs. All “fully loaded” programs (each with a start time, day, and run time) will be running when the controller is on, regardless of whichever one is showing on the display screen.  So if you see sprinklers coming on when you’re not expecting them, it’s likely a second program running — and this can easily double or triple a water bill. When checking the controller, make a habit of looking at all the programs to make sure there aren’t extras — and erase any you’re not using.

Mistake #2 – Multiple Start Times

There’s no need to assign an individual start time to each sprinkler zone! Be sure to check all the “start times” — and remember, each instance starts a full irrigation cycle, running all the sprinkler zones, one by one. If you have two start times, you’ll see the entire sprinkler system run twice. Even if you use just two start times in summer, to run the sprinklers morning and evening, you’re effectively doubling your sprinkler water — and that adds up very quickly! Use the “advance” button to check all of the start times — 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. — and turn any extras to OFF.

Mistake #3 – Multiple Days

One day a week deep watering is all you need!  And remember, if you add another day to the weekly schedule, you’ve probably just doubled your household water use.

Just Remember 1-1-1

All you need is:

  • 1 program (usually A)
  • 1 start time
  • 1 day

How Much Water?

The average irrigation system uses 2000 gallons of water each time it operates; larger ones can use much more. If you don’t stay on top of your irrigation controller and its settings, it can result in a lot of wasted water and high water bills!

The Secret to Saving the Most Water?

Turn off your controller and then run it manually on an as-needed basis.

Got Sprinklers?

Free Irrigation Consultations are available to homeowners with in-ground sprinkler systems. Our experts will check your system and make sure your controller settings match your landscape’s needs. You could also be eligible for an Irrigation Design Rebate.