Determine Your Sprinkler System Watering Schedule
Find your county’s irrigation watering schedule and restrictions to determine when you are permitted to water (days of the week and time of day). For residential homes, watering days are usually dependent upon the last digit of your house number. For HOA communities you may have a specific schedule assigned under a county variance. Decide the start time and the duration time for each irrigation zone or station. Each station or irrigation zone will have usually several sprinkler heads.
It is important to first check the county rules regarding irrigation watering or you may get a county violation penalty if you are watering during the wrong prescribed times. Watering hours in the Tampa Bay area are usually between 6 PM and 8 AM. These restrictions change from time to time and changes are usually noted in the local newspapers or on the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s website, www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/conservation/restrictions.
Setting Watering Start Times and Station Run Times
Review the video available on this website for setting the Rain Bird ESP-ME Controller. While you may have a different manufacturer and model, this will give you a general idea of how these systems work. Additionally, many irrigation manufacturers may have youtube.com videos available on the web with instructions to program a water schedule. This article shows how to program a Rain Bird ESP-Me Series Sprinkler Timer:
- Ensure the accurate current date and time is set in your Sprinkler Timer box. You will need to manage this for daylight savings time. Some systems may do this automatically.
- Select the day or days of the week on your Sprinkler Timer appropriate for your property.
- Set Watering Start Times by for the watering schedule, this will start the first station watering
- Set Station Run Time of watering for each zone. The time is usually noted in minutes.
Be cognizant that on your property some zones may require more or less water, so you may have to go back and adjust the Station Run Time for those zones to fine tune the amount of water being delivered to those areas. Sprinkler timer will allow you to select a specific station and change the duration time of watering. Example, if after an hour of watering, one of your zones has puddles of water, that zone may need less time and should have the duration modified. It important not to over-water, where the grass is swampy. It’s also important not to underwater, where the grass and soil are not moist and will dry out quickly.
If your Irrigation system is equipped with a rain sensor, it’s very important that you verify it is active. The purpose of the rain sensor is to shut off your system when the ground is sufficiently wet from a substantial rain. The rain sensor’s operation can be adjusted depending upon the amount of rain that has fallen. The worst waste of water and money is having your sprinkler irrigation system run while it’s raining. If you sprinkler system or community irrigation system doesn’t have a rain sensor or the rain sensor is not working, call ATZ Irrigation. We can repair your rain sensor or install a new rain sensor, depending on the manufacturer’s sprinkler timer model. Some old models are not equipped to handle a rain sensor, in those cases we replace the sprinkler timer with newer technology to handle the rain sensor.
Finally, if you have any trouble setting the time and/or duration, please call ATZ Irrigation for service, it may mean your sprinkler timer is malfunctioning and is in need of repair or replacement.
Irrigation Water Efficiency and Things to Check
After you have programmed your sprinkler timer with your new irrigation watering schedule, you should test it. Manual start the program and ensure your sprinkler system is working efficiently. Turn it on and let the system run for each zone for a few minutes. While the system is running, observe the following for the entire irrigation system:
- Ensure all sprinkler heads are popping up for each zone and working
- Inspect each sprinkler head to ensure it’s shooting a healthy stream of water, if not verify each sprinkler head is free of obstructing dirt and debris
- Test the back-up battery in the sprinkler timer if it has a charge, if not replace it
- Confirm the water pressure is strong enough to cover the entire area of the zone (40-65 psi is recommended)
- Check each area of your lawn is uniformly being watered, each sprinkler head should completely cover its assigned area, heads may need adjusting
- Check the each sprinkler head is at least 4 inches above the grass, from time to time you may need to raise some of your sprinkler heads as they will sink as the sprinkler system ages
If any one of the sprinkler heads are broken, leaking, or maladjusted, please don’t hesitate to call ATZ irrigation for sprinkler repairs or a sprinkler system checkup.