Efficient Sprinkler Systems

Posted on: June 25, 2015

Efficient Sprinkler Systems

Whether you own a home or a business, caring for the yard is an important task. Without the proper care, you will have dry grass, wilting plants, and dying trees. Sprinklers systems are the perfect solution to this problem, particularly in dry climates. They provide irrigation even in hot, humid areas, making it easy to keep your yard and garden looking great.
The Importance Of Efficient Sprinkler Systems
Instead of simply using any sprinkler system, it is important to select an efficient one. Many areas of the country even have laws in place limiting the irrigation methods and sprinklers to water-saving or water-efficient versions. This is more common in dry or desert climates where water is scarce, with temporary restrictions commonly appearing during drought. Even if you don’t live in a dry climate with water restrictions, opting for an efficient sprinkler system can save you a great deal of money over time on your water bill. Here are some elements to optimize the efficiency of your sprinklers.

Using Irrigation Zones

Using irrigation zones is the method of dividing your yard and/or garden into several different zones depending on their water requirements. You then use a different sprinkler or irrigation system for each zone. This method allows you to give each plant exactly how much water it needs, without drowning it or wasting water. Instead of having to water a drought-tolerant plant as much as one who needs lots of water, you simply place them in different zones, saving water. A landscape or plant expert can help you arrange your zones appropriately and figure out the water requirement in each.

Irrigation Shut-Off Devices

One of the best features to have on a sprinkler system when striving for efficiency is an automatic shut-off device. The most common form of these devices is the rain sensor. That sensor is able to determine how much rain has fallen and turn off your sprinkler (or irrigation) system if the rainfall passes a certain amount.

Timing Your Sprinklers

Not every aspect of your sprinkler’s efficiency is pre-determined; some of it is also up to you. To minimize the amount of water wasted, be sure to avoid using your sprinkler during the day, particularly from 10 am to 4 pm. During this time, the majority of the water will evaporate before ever reaching the roots of your plants, making the system useless as it wastes water and leaves plants dehydrated. Instead, the ideal time to use your sprinkler is early in the morning, between 4 am and 8 am. At this time, the temperature should be cool enough where instead of evaporating, the water will enter the soil so the plants’ roots can absorb it. In just a few hours, any excess moisture on the leaf blades will evaporate as it gets warmer.
You should try not to irrigate at night as if water stays on leaf blades for an extended period of time, it can lead to turf diseases. That being said, if for some reason using the sprinkler in the morning isn’t possible, nighttime is the next best choice. Aim to do so at some point after 4 pm to avoid water evaporation.

Turn Sprinkler On In Short Cycles

It seems easiest to simply water your lawn for one long cycle. If you have a manual sprinkler, this involves less effort and if you use an automatic one, you don’t have to set as many cycles. In reality, however, the plants will get better results and you will waste less water by opting for two to three shorter cycles. This gives the water a chance to soak into the ground, something which is important as most sprinklers will have to heavy a flow of water. After running for around 5 minutes, the water starts to build above the soil, eventually running off to be drained. Therefore using shorter cycles instead of one long one reduces your water run-off and limits wet spots.

High Efficiency Nozzles

Even if you have an old sprinkler system, you can easily improve its efficiency by updating the nozzle. Swap out the older nozzle for a high efficiency one which applies the water evenly. This will actually save you up to 30% in terms of the water used.

Automatic Controller To Save Water

There are lots of automatic controller choices and each of these will help you save water, offering a more efficient option. You want to find a controller that allows you to set more than one start time. This will give you the ability to water your property in multiple, smaller cycles as recommended above. You will also want the rain sensors mentioned above as well as a system that lets you adjust the amount of water the sprinkler uses or sprays out. The best automatic controllers will also have a feature that detects if a line or sprinkler breaks so you can correct it right away without having to worry about wasted water or time.

Using Other Systems As Well

To truly create an efficient irrigation system for your property, you don’t want to rely solely on sprinklers. Soaker hoses will sweat out water along their length, letting you water a particular plant thoroughly. You can also customize their arrangement so you only deliver a heavy water flow to specific zones that need it. If you have a lot of plantings, then drip irrigation will possibly be your most efficient option. It delivers the water slowly so the soil can absorb all of it. This prevents wasted water as well as run-off. Best of all, they drip systems also use significantly less water than a standard sprinkler.

Rely On Mulch

Mulch is a great way to decrease wasted water without having to change anything on your sprinkler. Mulch helps maintain the moisture in your garden beds, and it is especially useful during droughts. Adding between 4 and 6 inches of mulch to your plant beds will keep their soil moist and reduce evaporation, therefore wasting less water.