Here in the U.S. we done a good job at conserving water inside the home with low flow toilets, shower heads and faucets. Unfortunately we are terrible at water conservation outside the home as we allowing our sprinkler systems to over-water our lawns by as much as 50% wasting thousands of gallons per month. There are a number of DIY improvements you can make to your irrigation system to save a ton of water (and money) each month. Here are our top 10 ideas.
Install a Smart Controller – There is no doubt that the best improvement you can make to your irrigation system is to add a smart controller. The typical “dumb” irrigation controller is simply a timer set to run each zone for the same number of minutes year round. Can you imagine operating your heat or air conditioning the same number of minutes each day throughout the entire year? A good smart controller will determine the ideal amount of time to run each zone based on a number of factors including the time of year, plant material, slope, recent rainfall, soil type, current weather conditions and much more.
Utilize Seasonal Adjustments – If you’d rather not upgrade your controller to a smart controller then consider utilize the monthly adjustment feature in your current controller. This will automatically adjust the time each zone is run based on the monthly water needs. So, set June-July to 100% and each month (based on this chart) to a lower % of water usage.
Avoid Water Runoff – If you run your sprinklers and have water running down your driveway, off the sidewalks and down the road then you are wasting water. Unfortunately, this generally happens at 3 am and nobody notices it. Water run off could be caused by a number of issues including poorly adjusted sprinkler heads spraying on concrete, too much water on a zone or even a leak in the system.
Install Pressure Regulators or Pressure Regulating Sprinkler Heads – Each sprinkler head is designed to work with a optimal water pressure range. If your water pressure to that sprinkler head is too high then you’ll generate a great deal of waste through additional “mist” or “fog” that essentially evaporates before it reaches your soil. If you see this in your irrigation system then consider replacing your sprinkler heads with pressure regulating sprinkler heads to ensure the proper pressure at each head. You can now reduce the time each zone is running since more of the water is reaching your soil vs the air.
Install Water Efficient Sprinkler Nozzles – There has actually been quite a bit of technical improvements to sprinkler heads over the last 10 years. Many sprinkler manufacturers have more efficient sprinkler head options that utilize matched perciptiation rates to ensure more of the water reaches your soil vs being evaporated or blown into your neighbor’s driveway. Here is a good video about some of the efficient sprinkler head nozzle options.
Ensure Your Rain/Freeze Sensor is Working
Utilize Drip Irrigation
Perform Regular Maintenance
Turn Off Your Sprinklers!