For most people, a sprinkler system seems like something that will cost money. Paying for the equipment itself and the installation combined with electricity and water every time you use the system, it seems as if the costs just add up. In reality, a sprinkler system can be an effective way to save money as it ensures that you don’t have to spend time or money replacing dead pieces of your landscape. While it is true that some systems use a great deal of water, even those aren’t that expensive to run. Generally speaking, however, the best way to save money with your sprinkler system is to save water as this reduces your water bills.
Picking Smart Sprinklers
The first step to setting your sprinkler system to save money is to select the correct one and this involves a bit of research. Some sprinkler systems are more wasteful than others, so you want to select one that uses your resources wisely1. Smart sprinklers will have soil and/or rain sensors that let them detect whether your plants actually need to be watered in a given moment.
Make sure that you pay attention to more than just the system itself; there is a range of sprinkler heads available and generally speaking, new sprinkler heads will be more efficient than older ones, especially if the difference in age is 10 to 20 years or more. Keep in mind, however, that modern stream rotor nozzles are more efficient than traditional ones, but the difference is not enough to save you money when you factor in the replacement cost unless your current sprinklers are very old2. You may even be offered a discount or rebate on your water bill by switching to high-efficiency or rotating nozzles.
Maintain Your Sprinkler System
It may seem like maintaining your sprinkler system will cost you more money, as you need to have a professional look at it and check its functioning every once in a while. In reality, however, investing a bit of time and money in the system’s maintenance will save you money in the long run. Doing so prevents future issues that require replacing the entire system or a large portion of it and prevents water waste, lowering your electricity bills.
In addition to having a professional look at your sprinkler once a year or so, you should also pay close attention yourself. When you turn on your system, quickly skim the sprinkler heads, nozzles, and hoses to make sure there aren’t any leaks. If you notice anything, or odd puddles forming near underground hoses, have a professional check for issues and make necessary repairs.
Get A Rain Sensor
As with high-efficiency nozzles, your water provider may encourage you to install a rain switch or sensor with a rebate or discount of some sort. Even if they don’t provide this up-front money-savings, adding a rain switch will end up lowering your water bill each month. These sensors are smart technology that can tell when it is raining and if your sprinkler system is programmed to run, but it is raining, the sensors will stop it from running3. There are also various soil sensors that you can add to your sprinkler system that evaluate the water level in the soil and prevent the system from running, even when scheduled to do so, if the soil is wet enough.
If you are running a budget-friendly sprinkler system, it probably doesn’t have any pressure regulation. If this is the case, pay attention to the spray heads and if you notice misting or fogging, you know that the water pressure is too high. This means that it wastes water, wasting your money. In this case, you can simply install a device to regulate pressure to save water, and lower your next water bill.
Divide Into More Sprinkler Zones
Any landscape professional will tell you that a key to saving money on watering your yard and plants is to divide it into zones. Your grass will not need as much water as your flower or vegetable garden. Even within a garden patch, various plants will need varying quantities of water. The idea is to divide your property into as many zones as possible, each based on water needs. Put plants that need a small amount of water together and those that need a great deal of water together. This allows you to ensure each plant stays hydrated while preventing over-watering and the associated runoff and evaporation which simply waste water and money.
Placement of Sprinklers Heads
Even the placement of your sprinklers can save you money. Ensure that all heads are right at ground level and sit straight to maximize water flow and minimize leakage. Also check that there aren’t any tall plants or grasses blocking the path of the water to its desired destination. Take a look at where the sprinklers are in relation to the sidewalk, ensuring that they are about 4 to 6 inches away from this type of non-plant surface. This distance ensures that all grass receives moisture, but minimizes the amount wasted on sidewalks, patios, and other surfaces that don’t need it to grow.
Programming The Sprinkler System
For those who use a sprinkler system with a timer or program feature, you will quickly notice money savings and a greener lawn. Try to set up the program to run in two or three short cycles as opposed to one longer one as this ensures that the water soaks into the ground between each cycle. By watering in cycles, you can reduce the overall amount of time that your sprinklers run for, but increase absorption, saving you money on your water bill. If you aren’t sure how to plan the proper schedule for your yard, talk to an expert and they will help you.
Save Money With Rainwater
Although it can sometimes be complicated, and require a bit more of an initial investment, hooking your sprinkler system up to a rainwater collection system can end up saving you a great deal of money. In fact, you may find yourself dramatically decreasing your monthly water bills by only using rainwater to water your lawn. The idea is to set up a large barrel underneath an area where water runs off. Ensure the barrel has a spigot close to the bottom so you can attach your hose and sprinkler system, and you will be set. This will also help you avoid fines from breaking regulations during drought as you’ll still have rainwater stored from past months.