Conserving Water With Your Landscape Irrigation System

Many people are concerned with the overuse and waste of water. This has been a hot topic for years. There are water restrictions in many parts of the U.S. during times of drought. Regardless of restrictions, the need to water your landscape and/or garden is still a must. You can’t have thousands of dollars in grass and plants dying on you! Let alone all the hard work and time that have put into beautifying your yard. An automatic lawn sprinkler system, if used correctly, can actually save water compared to dragging out the hose and traditional sprinkler.

An automatic lawn sprinkler system is designed to water your landscape more precisely and evenly than the old manual method. The technology we have available today, such as weather sensors and drip irrigation, allow us to use automatic lawn sprinkler systems more efficiently than in the past.

While doing service calls, I have seen the overuse and inefficiency of a lot of lawn sprinkler systems. About 70% of the automatic systems that I see do not have any type of weather sensor. Rain sensors are the type of weather sensor needed here in Northwest Florida.
The are three basic types of weather sensors; rain sensors, wind sensors, and freeze sensors.

These might be self explanatory, but I’ll briefly discuss each just to clarify.

Rain sensors will automatic shut off the sprinkler system when a certain amount of rainfall has occurred. You can adjust the settings on the rain sensor from 1/8″ to 1″ of rain, on most brands. The rain sensor has a disk that swells up when it gets wet, which puts a break in the common wire (negative wire) going to the valves and pump-start relay so that they will not operate. The disc in the rain sensor will dry out at approximately the same rate as the soil, so the system will become operational again once the rain has stopped and the soil has dried up.

Wind sensors shut off the sprinkler system when a certain speed of wind is reached. Wind causes a problem with sprinklers because it will carry the water away from what it is supposed to be watering! The wind effects spray heads more than rotor heads, because sprays have smaller water droplets than rotors. Normal gusts of winds will occur, but a consistent wind will waste the water from your sprinkler system. A wind sensor also Tuoi cay tu Ä‘ong puts a break in the common wire to prevent the system from running.

A freeze sensor will shut the irrigation system off when the weather reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit. There is of course no need to run the sprinklers when all it will do is create an ice skating arena. A freeze sensor will not automatically drain your pump, so you will still need to do that if you have an above ground pump.

In my experience out in the field I’ve converted a lot of old spray zones to drip zones. A common problem that I see is spray heads behind bushes that have outgrown the system. The water from the spray heads get blocked and does not water the area it was intentionally meant to water. Every time I see this problem I recommend to the homeowner to get rid of the old heads and have new drip lines installed.

Drip irrigation can conserve up to 300X more water than spray heads! Conventional sprinkler heads are measured in gallons per minute (gpm) while drip is measured in gallons per hour (gph). If you are on a water system where you are paying for your water usage, then utilizing the power of drip irrigation is a must! There are several other advantages to drip irrigation even if you are not on paying for your water.

Drip irrigation is designed to water directly to the root base of your plants. This will cut down on unwanted weeds because you are not watering everywhere! If you are on a pump & well system and you have a problem with high iron content in your well water, this causes orange-brown rust stains on your house and driveway. Drip will help eliminate this problem because there is no spray back as there is with regular spray and rotor sprinkler heads.

If you have an existing lawn sprinkler system, then make sure you are using the proper weather sensors needed for the area where you live. Also get rid of the old spray heads that are watering shrubs and install drip irrigation lines. Old heads can be capped off and drip irrigation can be easily installed. If you do not have an automatic sprinkler system yet, and are planning on getting one, make sure that you do you part to conserve and use water efficiently.


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