Irrigation Scheduling Resources

Irrigation Scheduling Information

During your appointment, our associate may have discussed your new program with you and even programmed it into your sprinkler’s control clock. Still, you may be interested in learning more about the reasoning behind the schedule we recommended, or you want some help understanding how to program your control clock.

About the Schedulemore details

Our recommended schedule is based on the zones of your landscape that were tested during your appointment. The blue cups we used during the evaluation measured that zone’s precipitation rate (PR), which is the amount of water emitted per hour. Most turf grass needs a half inch of water per watering day to remain healthy. So, we use your PR 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. For example, if our associate tested Zone 1 on your system, which was a zone with all spray heads, you can use the same recommended schedule for other zones with spray heads. Keep in mind that this schedule is meant to serve as a baseline recommendation — you may need to make adjustments throughout the season. Some possible adjustments to consider:

  1.  Change the number of watering days throughout the season. In the Spring and Fall, you should only need to water 1-2 days per week, whereas in the summer, you should water 3 days per week. To keep up to date on how many days per week you should be watering based on the weather, sign up for our free newsletter, the Colorado Sprinkler Guide.
  2. If you don’t have a rain sensor, turn your control clock off after a large rainstorm and back on when you want your regular watering schedule to resume.
  3. Based on the appearance of your lawn, you may slightly increase the run times for zones that are in the sun all day or slightly decrease the run times for zones that are in the shade all day.

The Cycle and Soak Methodmore details

One of the most important aspects of our recommended watering schedule is the Cycle and Soak method. With the Cycle and Soak method, you water a zone for a short period of time and give the water time to soak in. You then repeat this cycle one or two more times. As an example, if our tests show that your sprinklers need to run for 15 minutes per watering day, we would break it 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.

Colorado has very dense, clay soil, which absorbs water very slowly. Using this method gives water more time to soak in. This reduces pooling water, runoff, and evaporation. It also allows for the water to penetrate deeper into the soil. This causes grass roots to grow deeper, which helps keep your lawn healthier and more resilient against stressors like heat, drought, disease, and pests.

Deep, Infrequent Wateringmore details

Another important aspect of our recommendation is scheduling deep, infrequent waterings. This essentially means you should water deep on the days you do water, and let your lawn dry out on days in-between. As mentioned, using the Cycle and Soak method helps promote deeper watering and deeper root growth. In additional to this creating a healthier lawn, it helps prevent soil compaction and promotes more uniform grass growth throughout your zone.

Allowing your lawn to then dry out between waterings reduces the risk of growing mildew or fungus or attracting unwanted pests. At the hottest times of the summer, your lawn needs 1.5 inches of water per week, which we divide up as 3 days of watering 0.5 inches each. The 1.5 inch recommendation includes rainfall, so you may skip a watering after a heavy rainstorm!

Smart Controllersmore details

Smart controllers help take out the manual work of adjusting your watering based on the weather and season. They use Wi-Fi to collect local weather data and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Most smart controllers have a cycle and soak feature available as well.

So, if you have a smart controller, it most likely doesn’t water on a set schedule like a traditional sprinkler control clock. Therefore, our recommended schedule should serve more as a guide. We suggest to enable the following options if your controller has them:

  • Smart cycling feature
  • Rain, wind, and freeze delay
  • Maximum of 3 watering days per week

Many smart controllers also have the option to input the data our associate collects during the evaluation including the precipitation rate, distribution uniformity, root depth, and soil type. These data points can be entered in the app under the zone(s) that the associate tested if desired.

As a word of caution- if your actual precipitation rate or distribution uniformity is lower than the default values set in your app and you change them to the actual values, this will increase your water use. So, we suggest to only input these values if they are higher than the default values.

Have questions?

Email our Slow the Flow staff, or call 303-999-3824.