Irrigation Scheduling Information
The schedule you received in your report is more than likely already programmed into your sprinkler’s control clock. But if you’re interested in learning more about the reasoning behind the schedule we recommended or are interested in a little help understanding how to program your control clock, read on below.
About the Schedule. Our recommended schedule is based on the zones of your landscape that were tested during your appointment. The funny-looking blue cups we used during the consultation collected that zone’s precipitation rate (PR), or the amount of water the sprinkler system emits in an hour. With that information, coupled with the understanding that grass in Colorado needs about 1.5 inches of water in the height of summer, we are able to calculate how long your sprinklers need to run to provide the right amount of water for your grass.
Zones that have the same head types and have other similar features can use the recommended schedule as a base starting point. So, if we tested Zone 1 on your system, a zone with all spray heads, you can use the same recommended schedule for all other zones with spray heads. This schedule is meant to serve as a guide — keep an eye on your lawn and make weather and seasonal-based adjustments as needed while the sprinkler system is in operation.
The Cycle and Soak Method. One of the most important aspects of our recommended watering schedule is the Cycle and Soak method. This essentially means that every watering day is broken into 2 to 3 parts, or cycles, with at least an hour in between. For instance, if our tests show that your sprinklers need to run for 15 minutes per day, we would break each watering day into 3 cycles of 5 minutes each. It’s important to keep in mind that if you want to change a zone’s run time, each minute you add or subtract will change the total daily run time by a minute for each cycle that’s programmed.
Why Cycling? Watering in short cycles, or ‘cycling’ is important in heavy clay soils, on slopes, or when sprinklers have a high precipitation rate. In clay soils, especially those on slopes, the ground can’t absorb the water at the rate the sprinklers are emitting it. So, by breaking the watering into cycles, the ground has time to catch up and absorb the water the sprinkler puts down. This will help prevent puddling and runoff.
Why Adjust Based on Season and Weather? Evapotranspiration (ET) is one of the most important things to consider when scheduling run times for your irrigation system. ET is the amount of water a plants loses to evaporation and transpiration and is the amount of water needed for the plant to survive. Our recommended watering schedule is based on an average historical ET for the Front Range of Colorado: 27 in of water per year. If the weather is significantly hotter and drier or cooler and wetter than average, you may need to adjust your watering schedule. Additionally, with differences in daylight hours between seasons, ET rates are different. So even if its hot and dry in the fall, grass should only require 2 days of water per week at the most. Please refer to your consultation report for recommendations based on weather or season.