Our lawns are the major user of water in our cities, so you can save the most on your water bill by making sure your sprinkler system is operating properly. According to a recent NASA-sponsored study, turfgrass is the largest irrigated crop in the United States at nearly 32 million acres, nearly three times the acreage of irrigated corn!
#1 Check your sprinkler system
Have broken and malfunctioning heads repaired. In Lubbock, due to inblown soil, many sprinkler heads do not pop up high enough to water the turf without interference. The result is an inefficient, poor watering pattern.
#2 Adjust your sprinkler timer
Historically June and July are the months when the lawn will need the most water. Or, have a smart controller installed that will automatically adjust itself according to current conditions.
#3 Know the precipitation rate of each zone
Make sure each zone is running for the proper amount of time. Set out empty tuna cans to see how long it takes to apply an inch of water in each zone. You'll find that some types of sprinklers (sprays) apply water much more quickly than others (rotors).
#4 Reduce pressure to 30 psi on spray heads.
Above this pressure, they will mist and waste water into the air. If your pressure is too high, we can install a pressure regulator that will reduce the pressure to the proper level.
#5 Water early in the day
Water when wind and evaporation are at their lowest. More of the water will end up in the soil, instead of on the street and sidewalk. About 2 hours before sunrise is ideal.
#6 Use the cycle feature on your controller to avoid runoff
Spray heads, especially on a slope, apply water so quickly that runoff will often occur. Rather than run these for 30 minutes straight, it is better to run a zone at say 3:00 am for 10 minutes, then at 5:00 am for 10 minutes, then at 7:00 am for 10 minutes. This gives the water time to soak into the soil before runoff occurs.
#7 Apply enough water to wet the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches
If you have heavy soil which is susceptible to runoff, use the cycle method described earlier. Watering frequently promotes shallow roots which are more susceptible to drought and less able to take advantage of rainfall. If your system runs every day, this is too often. Don't water the grass until it needs it. See the TexasET website.
#8 Install a rain/freeze sensor
This device will automatically shut off the system when it rains or freezes. This saves water and makes our streets and sidewalks safer. These devices can pay for themselves in 1-3 years, depending on the size of the lawn and the amount of rainfall received.
#9 Consider drought tolerant landscaping
Replace those narrow strips of turfgrass near the street with drought tolerant perennial flowers, shrubs, and ornamental grasses. These plants are beautiful, require very little water, and need less maintenance than turf.
#10 Use water efficient nozzles
MP Rotators are designed to use 20% less water for the same effect while providing better coverage. Using these nozzles can increase efficiency from 50% to 80%.