Designing Sprinkler Systems That Save Money

Posted on: August 16, 2015

The installation and use of an underground sprinkler system can save the homeowner money in the long run. It is some expense to install, but the savings in the water and/or power bill will be worth it over time. It’s easy to set a sprinkler or soaker hose, then go off and forget all about it for hours. A sprinkler system with a timer will turn the water on for a pre-programmed length of time, then turn it off again. This saves money by not letting the water run too long.


Watering Needs

The first thing to think about when considering a sprinkler system is what the specific needs are. Is the lawn large or small? Are there flowerbeds to include? What about trees and bushes? Walk around the property and think about where the hand watering, or use of hose and sprinklers have been. These are the areas that an underground sprinkler system will replace.

Designing the Irrigation Layout

The next step is to draw a sketch of the property, locate trees, bushes, flowerbeds, and lawns are. Don’t forget to place the house on the sketch, too. Include property dimensions. It may help to divide the property up into zones or areas, such as front yard, back yard, and side yards. Be sure to note driveways, patios, walls, or any other feature there may be.


Next, transfer the sketch to graph paper so that everything is drawn to scale. Then you will be ready to determine where the sprinklers should be placed. At this point sprinkler head placement should be carefully studied so they are situated to provide maximum coverage with a minimum number of heads.


Other Factors to Consider Designing Your Irrigation System

There are other factors to take into consideration when designing a sprinkler system. If the entire landscaping is being designed at the same time, group plants and flowers together that all have similar water requirements. Not all plants need the same amount of water. Shady spots won’t take as much water, either. Different seasons and weather patterns will call for different watering needs. So attention will need to be paid to the sprinkler system’s timer programming.


Summer temperatures are hotter than spring and fall, so more water will be needed. An unusually wet (or dry) season will also call for an adjustment to the timer programming. Paying special attention to the sprinkler system’s timer programming will save money in both water bills and in plant replacement. Not only will plants die from lack of water, they can also die from too much water.


Using Modern Technology

Consider using a sprinkler system that has evapotranspiration technology. This device uses weather data to determine when and how much to water. It can determine the amount of water needed based on the scientific data it receives, making it a more precise watering system than one that relies solely on human operation.


Rain sensors will prevent the sprinkler system from coming on while it is raining. A basic programmable timer will just turn on the sprinklers and let them run without regard to the weather. So if the homeowner is sleeping or away from home, water can be wasted by the sprinkler system coming on at a time when it isn’t needed. The addition of a rain sensor to the sprinkler system can prevent the timer from turning on the sprinklers while it is raining.


Types of Sprinkler Heads

The right sprinkler head must also be chosen based on the watering needs. A pop-up spray head will run in short cycles and be more efficient that will the oscillating type. The oscillating type can use up to three times longer running time because it’s rotating rather than stationary. This is another way to save money plus have a better, more thorough watering job.


Optimal Watering Times

Plan the watering times for optimal plant benefits. Morning is the best time to water before the day gets hot. There will be less water loss due to evaporation when the temperature is cooler. Usually the wind is calmer in the morning, also. Evening is not a good time to water because the water can sit on the ground and plants all night, causing plant and turf disease issues.


Using several short watering cycles can save water, which in turn saves money. If a cycle of 15 minutes is the normal practice, try setting the timer for three 4-minute cycles, with 30 minutes in between each cycle. This reduces the watering time to 12 minutes, plus the plants will like it better. Watering for shorter times with a break in between allows the water to soak into the ground rather than run off. Therefore the lawn and plants will thrive better. This also saves money when plants don’t have to be replaced due to poor watering procedures.


From time to time it’s a good idea to audit the sprinkler system to make certain that there are no leaks in the pipes or broken sprinkler heads. If you can’t do it yourself, there are professionals that can be called to perform the audit. This is especially important if the system is older.


Another thing to check periodically is all around the sprinkler heads. Make sure that the grass or weeds are not growing up too high and diverting the spray of water away from where it’s supposed to be. For optimum watering, the sprinkler heads need to be free and clear from all debris and overgrowing grass, weeds, or bushes.


Sprinklers should be positioned four to six inches in from curbs, gutters, and other paved areas. Water sprayed onto cement is wasted. If positioned properly, the grass along the edges will still get its share of the water and will not turn brown.


In summary, these are a few of the ways with which the homeowner can save money with an underground sprinkler system. Saves water, which in turn saves money; saves plants and lawn from over- or under-watering; saves you from forgetting to shut off the water when watering by hand.