An underground automatic sprinkler system is a wonderful, time-saving device, as long as it is working properly. How much more convenient is it to just program a timer to come on when you want, water where you want, and go off at just the right time, than to do things the manual way. Dragging unwieldy hoses across the yard, straightening the kinks out of the hose, having to dash between revolutions to get from the faucet to the back porch, all those things are such a nuisance. Then you also have to remember to turn it off again, or have a swimming hole instead of a front lawn. However, things can go wrong with even the best sprinkler systems. Take a look at some common problems and what you can do to fix them.
No Water Coming From Your Sprinkler Heads
The sprinklers were supposed to come on five minutes ago, but nothing is happening. You’ve checked the timer and it appears to be OK. You even went out and poked at one of the sprinkler heads, but nothing happened. What could be the problem?
Well, it could be the programmer. Something could be amiss with the programming or the wiring. Or it could be as simple as forgetting to change the clock to, or back from, Daylight Savings Time.
It could be that roots have worked their way inside the water pipes and have blocked them so completely that no water can get through. You may have to call a professional to fix this issue.
There could be a broken pipe somewhere along the line. Look for a puddle somewhere in the lawn. That’s where the break is most likely to be.
Another thing to consider is, is there sufficient water pressure to handle all the sprinklers, the dishwasher, the washing machine, and the shower all at the same time? You may need to stagger the water usage if water pressure is a problem.
Depending on your handyman skill level, you can fix some or all of these issues yourself. For others, you may need the help of a professional.
Leaks were touched on briefly above. A couple of things can cause leaky pipes. One is old, worn-out pipes that just wear through. Another is pipes freezing in the winter. If there is a spot where the lawn may have been driven over, that may have broken a pipe. A leak is usually obvious by the wet spot in the grass when you haven’t watered for a few days.
One Sprinkler Head Doesn’t Work
If it’s just one head that isn’t working, the fault probably isn’t with your system. Sprinkler heads can be damaged in a variety of ways. They can be damaged by cold weather, by being run over by a lawn mower, or just by being stepped on. Usually they will either not work at all, or spray water erratically. This is remedied by just replacing the sprinkler head.
The Sprinkler Head Doesn’t Retract
Most systems use sprinkler heads that pop up when the water comes on, and then retract when the water shuts off. This allows the heads to lay flat so a person doesn’t trip over them or damage them with the lawn mower, or damage the mower blades. If a sprinkler head doesn’t retract properly, check underneath it to see if something is holding it up. Usually it will be lawn debris, grass clippings, wood chips, or maybe even an acorn or pinecone, depending on the type of trees in your yard. Just clean out the debris, and usually the sprinkler head with go right down.
Clogged Sprinkler Head
Probably the most common problem with sprinkler heads is clogging. They can get clogged with grass clippings, leaves, or whatever your kids may have poked in there. They are easy to spot because there will either be no water coming out, or it will be just a trickle, or with an erratic spray pattern. To clean a clogged head, be sure the water is turned off. Use a piece of stiff wire, such as a straightened paper clip, to poke into the hole. If that doesn’t do it, remove the sprinkler head, soak it in water, then clean, and replace. Be sure to clean out the sleeve that it fits into before you put it back on.
Stuck Sprinkler Valves
If the water doesn’t shut off when it’s supposed to, the shutoff valve may be blocked with a pebble or other debris. Home sprinkler systems often have a shutoff valve at each end. You will need to check both of them. Unscrew the solenoid, a cap-like thing on the side, let water flow out for a little bit, and then screw it back on.
Obstructed Sprinkler Head
Sometimes a sprinkler head can become overgrown with grass or covered with leaves. You may forget where each one is and set something on top of one. Occasionally it’s a good idea to count sprinkler heads to see if they are all working. If one is missing, locate it and clear away the obstruction. When you are placing items in the yard, such as planters, garden statues, or even a trash can, be sure you aren’t putting it on top of a sprinkler head.
Overspray From Your Sprinkler System
You should watch your sprinklers now and then to be sure they are adjusted to the right spray pattern. Dirt won’t grow, and neither will asphalt. Watering the side of your house or garage won’t do it any good, either. If the water is overshooting the area you want watered, just adjust the spray reach, if possible. Many sprinkler heads have a small screw at the top of the nozzle that controls the spray pattern. Just turn it to suit your needs. If the sprinkler head can’t be adjusted, you may need to replace it with one that has a more suitable spray pattern.
If you encounter sprinkler system issues that you are unable to diagnose or repair yourself, call us and we’ll be happy to send one of our professionals out to help you.
That new automatic irrigation system you just had installed cost you more than a nickel or two. The last thing you want is to have problems with it, or to have it give out before it should. How do you keep your new system in top operating condition? Let’s take a look at some tips that will help prolong the system’s life.
Regular Sprinkler System Maintenance
Regular maintenance is the key to ensuring a good long life for your irrigation system. Sprinkler heads can be damaged by being run over by the lawn mower, or by being hit by the weed eater. Irrigation systems also degrade over time. So if you have dry spots, or too much water in spots, or if the water is running down the gutter, it’s time for a tune-up.
After your next lawn mowing, turn on your watering system one station at a time, and visually check to see that all the sprinkler heads are working and working properly. After you see that everything is working well, or fix what isn’t, it’s a good idea to outline a basic maintenance plan to follow. The plan can be divided into two sections: maintenance done frequently throughout the watering season, and that which only needs to be done once or twice during the season. Your climate will determine how long the watering season is.
Twice a Season Maintenance Checks
Begin your inspection at the water faucets that control the irrigation system. Check for leaks or drips. Some leaks can be easily fixed with some white plumber’s tape wound around the threads of the faucet or hose connection. If there are pressure regulators or filters attached to the faucets, check these for blockage and clean them out. Leaking control valves may have debris buildup inside. They will need to be taken apart and cleaned out.
Does your system put out the correct water pressure? If the pressure is too low, the lawn and other vegetation won’t get sufficient water. If it is too high, it can wear out the parts too soon. Too high of pressure will also waste water and may put it where you don’t want it. Water pressure test kits are available at your local irrigation supply store. Check your owner’s manual, or call the manufacturer, to see what the optimal water pressure should be for your system. Then set it accordingly.
Most fixed-spray, pop-up type of sprinkler heads work best around 30-psi. Rotor type sprinklers work well at nearly 50-psi. Micro-spray and drip systems should have a pressure regulator with a filter installed that operates at 8 to10-psi. This pressure test should only have to be done once when the system is installed. The only other time would be if changes are made to the system, such as adding or removing sprinkler heads.
Matched Application Rate Sprinklers
If there is a variety of sprinklers, drip lines, and misters all on one system, you may not be getting the appropriate coverage you desire. All these different types of sprinklers require different water pressure. Also, if you have some heads that sprinkle 360º, some that spray 180º, and others that only spray at 90º, you will have some places that will get way too much water. The 90º heads will spray four times the amount of water that the 360º does. You need to make sure that all the sprinkler have heads that have a matched application rate, meaning that all the heads will put out the same amount of water.
Angle and Coverage Of Sprinkler Heads
Make certain that all the sprinkler heads pop up properly and are parallel to the ground, not slanted or tilted. This ensures proper application of the water to the ground around it. Check to be sure that all of the area is getting covered. The sprinkler spray should overlap just a bit in order to not create dry spots in between.
Visual Irrigation Maintenance Checks
Look around to make sure there are no geysers. Anyplace you see water shooting up into the air is a sure sign of a malfunctioning sprinkler head, or possibly a broken pipe. If you elect to fix it yourself, be sure you know what type of system you have, what particular part(s) you need, and how to go about completing the repair. Putting in the wrong part can really mess things up.
Check for other sprinkler heads that are not outputting water properly. This needs to be done close up. Look for heads that are spraying erratically, spraying only from one side, or just dripping rather than spraying. Sometimes the head is cracked, chipped, or broken and needs to be replaced. Sometimes it is just clogged with debris that can be easily cleaned out.
Broken pipes underground will create a puddle above the break. Sometimes you will be able to see the water bubbling out of the ground. A broken pipe will also cause a drop in water pressure. If you notice a significant drop in water pressure, check it out immediately. You don’t want a big water bill that accrued due to a broken or leaking pipe. If you don’t feel capable of fixing it yourself, call a professional to help.
Make sure the spray pattern falls within the correct area that you want watered. If the spray is reaching a hard surface such as a driveway, sidewalk, or other similar place, adjust the sprinkler head to shrink the spray pattern. Likewise, if some area is being missed, adjust to make the spray go all the places you want it to. If the wrong sprinkler head has been installed for that particular area, you may want to replace it with a correct one.
If an area within the spray pattern is dry, but the ground is wet on either side of it, perhaps the sprinkler head is clogged. A straightened paper clip makes a handy tool to poke into the hole and clean it out.
Providing regular maintenance for your irrigation system will give you many years of hassle-free use.
The installation and use of an underground sprinkler system can save the homeowner money in the long run. It is some expense to install, but the savings in the water and/or power bill will be worth it over time. It’s easy to set a sprinkler or soaker hose, then go off and forget all about it for hours. A sprinkler system with a timer will turn the water on for a pre-programmed length of time, then turn it off again. This saves money by not letting the water run too long.
The first thing to think about when considering a sprinkler system is what the specific needs are. Is the lawn large or small? Are there flowerbeds to include? What about trees and bushes? Walk around the property and think about where the hand watering, or use of hose and sprinklers have been. These are the areas that an underground sprinkler system will replace.
Designing the Irrigation Layout
The next step is to draw a sketch of the property, locate trees, bushes, flowerbeds, and lawns are. Don’t forget to place the house on the sketch, too. Include property dimensions. It may help to divide the property up into zones or areas, such as front yard, back yard, and side yards. Be sure to note driveways, patios, walls, or any other feature there may be.
Next, transfer the sketch to graph paper so that everything is drawn to scale. Then you will be ready to determine where the sprinklers should be placed. At this point sprinkler head placement should be carefully studied so they are situated to provide maximum coverage with a minimum number of heads.
Other Factors to Consider Designing Your Irrigation System
There are other factors to take into consideration when designing a sprinkler system. If the entire landscaping is being designed at the same time, group plants and flowers together that all have similar water requirements. Not all plants need the same amount of water. Shady spots won’t take as much water, either. Different seasons and weather patterns will call for different watering needs. So attention will need to be paid to the sprinkler system’s timer programming.
Summer temperatures are hotter than spring and fall, so more water will be needed. An unusually wet (or dry) season will also call for an adjustment to the timer programming. Paying special attention to the sprinkler system’s timer programming will save money in both water bills and in plant replacement. Not only will plants die from lack of water, they can also die from too much water.
Using Modern Technology
Consider using a sprinkler system that has evapotranspiration technology. This device uses weather data to determine when and how much to water. It can determine the amount of water needed based on the scientific data it receives, making it a more precise watering system than one that relies solely on human operation.
Rain sensors will prevent the sprinkler system from coming on while it is raining. A basic programmable timer will just turn on the sprinklers and let them run without regard to the weather. So if the homeowner is sleeping or away from home, water can be wasted by the sprinkler system coming on at a time when it isn’t needed. The addition of a rain sensor to the sprinkler system can prevent the timer from turning on the sprinklers while it is raining.
Types of Sprinkler Heads
The right sprinkler head must also be chosen based on the watering needs. A pop-up spray head will run in short cycles and be more efficient that will the oscillating type. The oscillating type can use up to three times longer running time because it’s rotating rather than stationary. This is another way to save money plus have a better, more thorough watering job.
Optimal Watering Times
Plan the watering times for optimal plant benefits. Morning is the best time to water before the day gets hot. There will be less water loss due to evaporation when the temperature is cooler. Usually the wind is calmer in the morning, also. Evening is not a good time to water because the water can sit on the ground and plants all night, causing plant and turf disease issues.
Using several short watering cycles can save water, which in turn saves money. If a cycle of 15 minutes is the normal practice, try setting the timer for three 4-minute cycles, with 30 minutes in between each cycle. This reduces the watering time to 12 minutes, plus the plants will like it better. Watering for shorter times with a break in between allows the water to soak into the ground rather than run off. Therefore the lawn and plants will thrive better. This also saves money when plants don’t have to be replaced due to poor watering procedures.
From time to time it’s a good idea to audit the sprinkler system to make certain that there are no leaks in the pipes or broken sprinkler heads. If you can’t do it yourself, there are professionals that can be called to perform the audit. This is especially important if the system is older.
Another thing to check periodically is all around the sprinkler heads. Make sure that the grass or weeds are not growing up too high and diverting the spray of water away from where it’s supposed to be. For optimum watering, the sprinkler heads need to be free and clear from all debris and overgrowing grass, weeds, or bushes.
Sprinklers should be positioned four to six inches in from curbs, gutters, and other paved areas. Water sprayed onto cement is wasted. If positioned properly, the grass along the edges will still get its share of the water and will not turn brown.
In summary, these are a few of the ways with which the homeowner can save money with an underground sprinkler system. Saves water, which in turn saves money; saves plants and lawn from over- or under-watering; saves you from forgetting to shut off the water when watering by hand.
Efficient Sprinkler Systems
Whether you own a home or a business, caring for the yard is an important task. Without the proper care, you will have dry grass, wilting plants, and dying trees. Sprinklers systems are the perfect solution to this problem, particularly in dry climates. They provide irrigation even in hot, humid areas, making it easy to keep your yard and garden looking great.
The Importance Of Efficient Sprinkler Systems
Instead of simply using any sprinkler system, it is important to select an efficient one. Many areas of the country even have laws in place limiting the irrigation methods and sprinklers to water-saving or water-efficient versions. This is more common in dry or desert climates where water is scarce, with temporary restrictions commonly appearing during drought. Even if you don’t live in a dry climate with water restrictions, opting for an efficient sprinkler system can save you a great deal of money over time on your water bill. Here are some elements to optimize the efficiency of your sprinklers.
Using Irrigation Zones
Using irrigation zones is the method of dividing your yard and/or garden into several different zones depending on their water requirements. You then use a different sprinkler or irrigation system for each zone. This method allows you to give each plant exactly how much water it needs, without drowning it or wasting water. Instead of having to water a drought-tolerant plant as much as one who needs lots of water, you simply place them in different zones, saving water. A landscape or plant expert can help you arrange your zones appropriately and figure out the water requirement in each.
Irrigation Shut-Off Devices
One of the best features to have on a sprinkler system when striving for efficiency is an automatic shut-off device. The most common form of these devices is the rain sensor. That sensor is able to determine how much rain has fallen and turn off your sprinkler (or irrigation) system if the rainfall passes a certain amount.
Timing Your Sprinklers
Not every aspect of your sprinkler’s efficiency is pre-determined; some of it is also up to you. To minimize the amount of water wasted, be sure to avoid using your sprinkler during the day, particularly from 10 am to 4 pm. During this time, the majority of the water will evaporate before ever reaching the roots of your plants, making the system useless as it wastes water and leaves plants dehydrated. Instead, the ideal time to use your sprinkler is early in the morning, between 4 am and 8 am. At this time, the temperature should be cool enough where instead of evaporating, the water will enter the soil so the plants’ roots can absorb it. In just a few hours, any excess moisture on the leaf blades will evaporate as it gets warmer.
You should try not to irrigate at night as if water stays on leaf blades for an extended period of time, it can lead to turf diseases. That being said, if for some reason using the sprinkler in the morning isn’t possible, nighttime is the next best choice. Aim to do so at some point after 4 pm to avoid water evaporation.
Turn Sprinkler On In Short Cycles
It seems easiest to simply water your lawn for one long cycle. If you have a manual sprinkler, this involves less effort and if you use an automatic one, you don’t have to set as many cycles. In reality, however, the plants will get better results and you will waste less water by opting for two to three shorter cycles. This gives the water a chance to soak into the ground, something which is important as most sprinklers will have to heavy a flow of water. After running for around 5 minutes, the water starts to build above the soil, eventually running off to be drained. Therefore using shorter cycles instead of one long one reduces your water run-off and limits wet spots.
High Efficiency Nozzles
Even if you have an old sprinkler system, you can easily improve its efficiency by updating the nozzle. Swap out the older nozzle for a high efficiency one which applies the water evenly. This will actually save you up to 30% in terms of the water used.
Automatic Controller To Save Water
There are lots of automatic controller choices and each of these will help you save water, offering a more efficient option. You want to find a controller that allows you to set more than one start time. This will give you the ability to water your property in multiple, smaller cycles as recommended above. You will also want the rain sensors mentioned above as well as a system that lets you adjust the amount of water the sprinkler uses or sprays out. The best automatic controllers will also have a feature that detects if a line or sprinkler breaks so you can correct it right away without having to worry about wasted water or time.
Using Other Systems As Well
To truly create an efficient irrigation system for your property, you don’t want to rely solely on sprinklers. Soaker hoses will sweat out water along their length, letting you water a particular plant thoroughly. You can also customize their arrangement so you only deliver a heavy water flow to specific zones that need it. If you have a lot of plantings, then drip irrigation will possibly be your most efficient option. It delivers the water slowly so the soil can absorb all of it. This prevents wasted water as well as run-off. Best of all, they drip systems also use significantly less water than a standard sprinkler.
Rely On Mulch
Mulch is a great way to decrease wasted water without having to change anything on your sprinkler. Mulch helps maintain the moisture in your garden beds, and it is especially useful during droughts. Adding between 4 and 6 inches of mulch to your plant beds will keep their soil moist and reduce evaporation, therefore wasting less water.
For most people, a sprinkler system seems like something that will cost money. Paying for the equipment itself and the installation combined with electricity and water every time you use the system, it seems as if the costs just add up. In reality, a sprinkler system can be an effective way to save money as it ensures that you don’t have to spend time or money replacing dead pieces of your landscape. While it is true that some systems use a great deal of water, even those aren’t that expensive to run. Generally speaking, however, the best way to save money with your sprinkler system is to save water as this reduces your water bills.
Picking Smart Sprinklers
The first step to setting your sprinkler system to save money is to select the correct one and this involves a bit of research. Some sprinkler systems are more wasteful than others, so you want to select one that uses your resources wisely1. Smart sprinklers will have soil and/or rain sensors that let them detect whether your plants actually need to be watered in a given moment.
Make sure that you pay attention to more than just the system itself; there is a range of sprinkler heads available and generally speaking, new sprinkler heads will be more efficient than older ones, especially if the difference in age is 10 to 20 years or more. Keep in mind, however, that modern stream rotor nozzles are more efficient than traditional ones, but the difference is not enough to save you money when you factor in the replacement cost unless your current sprinklers are very old2. You may even be offered a discount or rebate on your water bill by switching to high-efficiency or rotating nozzles.
Maintain Your Sprinkler System
It may seem like maintaining your sprinkler system will cost you more money, as you need to have a professional look at it and check its functioning every once in a while. In reality, however, investing a bit of time and money in the system’s maintenance will save you money in the long run. Doing so prevents future issues that require replacing the entire system or a large portion of it and prevents water waste, lowering your electricity bills.
In addition to having a professional look at your sprinkler once a year or so, you should also pay close attention yourself. When you turn on your system, quickly skim the sprinkler heads, nozzles, and hoses to make sure there aren’t any leaks. If you notice anything, or odd puddles forming near underground hoses, have a professional check for issues and make necessary repairs.
Get A Rain Sensor
As with high-efficiency nozzles, your water provider may encourage you to install a rain switch or sensor with a rebate or discount of some sort. Even if they don’t provide this up-front money-savings, adding a rain switch will end up lowering your water bill each month. These sensors are smart technology that can tell when it is raining and if your sprinkler system is programmed to run, but it is raining, the sensors will stop it from running3. There are also various soil sensors that you can add to your sprinkler system that evaluate the water level in the soil and prevent the system from running, even when scheduled to do so, if the soil is wet enough.
If you are running a budget-friendly sprinkler system, it probably doesn’t have any pressure regulation. If this is the case, pay attention to the spray heads and if you notice misting or fogging, you know that the water pressure is too high. This means that it wastes water, wasting your money. In this case, you can simply install a device to regulate pressure to save water, and lower your next water bill.
Divide Into More Sprinkler Zones
Any landscape professional will tell you that a key to saving money on watering your yard and plants is to divide it into zones. Your grass will not need as much water as your flower or vegetable garden. Even within a garden patch, various plants will need varying quantities of water. The idea is to divide your property into as many zones as possible, each based on water needs. Put plants that need a small amount of water together and those that need a great deal of water together. This allows you to ensure each plant stays hydrated while preventing over-watering and the associated runoff and evaporation which simply waste water and money.
Placement of Sprinklers Heads
Even the placement of your sprinklers can save you money. Ensure that all heads are right at ground level and sit straight to maximize water flow and minimize leakage. Also check that there aren’t any tall plants or grasses blocking the path of the water to its desired destination. Take a look at where the sprinklers are in relation to the sidewalk, ensuring that they are about 4 to 6 inches away from this type of non-plant surface. This distance ensures that all grass receives moisture, but minimizes the amount wasted on sidewalks, patios, and other surfaces that don’t need it to grow.
Programming The Sprinkler System
For those who use a sprinkler system with a timer or program feature, you will quickly notice money savings and a greener lawn. Try to set up the program to run in two or three short cycles as opposed to one longer one as this ensures that the water soaks into the ground between each cycle. By watering in cycles, you can reduce the overall amount of time that your sprinklers run for, but increase absorption, saving you money on your water bill. If you aren’t sure how to plan the proper schedule for your yard, talk to an expert and they will help you.
Save Money With Rainwater
Although it can sometimes be complicated, and require a bit more of an initial investment, hooking your sprinkler system up to a rainwater collection system can end up saving you a great deal of money. In fact, you may find yourself dramatically decreasing your monthly water bills by only using rainwater to water your lawn. The idea is to set up a large barrel underneath an area where water runs off. Ensure the barrel has a spigot close to the bottom so you can attach your hose and sprinkler system, and you will be set. This will also help you avoid fines from breaking regulations during drought as you’ll still have rainwater stored from past months.
If you live in the Austin area then you probably already know that there are water restrictions in the area. Those that are only moving to the area may be confused by the language used and even more by the restrictions themselves. It is not all that easy to understand regulations unless they are explained clearly and that has been one of the bigger problems for people in the area. Once you understand the reasons for the restrictions and what those restrictions are then it becomes a lot easier to adhere to them. Here are the things that you need to know.
Levels of Water Restriction
The first thing that you should know is that water restrictions in the Austin area are classified in different drought response stages. Those stages give you regulation as how water should be used in the area and that includes irrigation systems. The stages include information on the times that you are able to use your irrigation systems including days and time of the day. Landscaping companies and residents alike have to adhere to those regulations and the stages become stricter depending on the drought conditions at the time. Since September of 2012 the entire area of Austin has been in Drought Response Stage Two.
Who Is Affected By The Regulation
Unlike some other areas in the country, the water restrictions in Austin affect everyone at the same time. Of course the water restrictions are different for businesses, homes and schools, but everyone contributes in drought conditions. The regulations also depend on your address so it is important to understand when your home or businesses are allowed to use the irrigation system. In the end, those with residential and commercial addresses need to follow a strict schedule while schools all use the same schedule for their campuses.
The one thing that most people want to know is what the restrictions are for residential addresses. At the current Stage 2 restrictions hose-end sprinklers can only be used between 7 PM and 10AM on Saturdays and Sundays; if you have an even house number then you should use your irrigation system on Sundays and if you live in an odd number house then your day is Saturday. If at your house you have automatic irrigation then they need to be set up to work between 7 PM and 5 AM. Even number houses have to use their automatic irrigation systems on Thursday, while odd number houses would be allowed to use them on Wednesday.
If you own a business, then your irrigation rules are a bit different and it also depends on the sprinkler system that you are using. Hose-end sprinklers hours are the same for residential and commercial. That means that if you are using these sprinklers they need to be used from 7 PM to 10 AM. Automatic irrigation systems also need to be used between 7PM and 5 AM. The difference is that businesses all have the same two days to use the water. Even addresses have Tuesdays and Odd addresses have to use the irrigation system on Friday.
Schools use the same hours as businesses and residential customers, but all schools are set up to use their irrigation systems on Mondays.
While the regulations apply to irrigation systems, there are some exemptions from the rule. The first example would be the exemption for watering your plants with a hand-held hose or with a bucket. Both of those methods are allowed no matter what day of the week or the time of the day. The reason why those two systems are exempt is that less water is used with them than with most irrigation systems. It is still encouraged to use as little water as possible, even when using an exempt system.
The other exemption is for those home or business owners that use drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is exempt from the rules because it has increased efficiency. Because drip irrigations system release water incredibly slowly, there is little to no chance for water evaporation. Instead, the soil absorbs nearly all of the water from these systems, meaning none is wasted. Because of that impressive efficiency, you are allowed to use drip irrigation whenever you want, no matter the time of the day or day of the week.
Another small exemption is for those that use soaker hoses under the drip line or those that use automatic tree bubblers. These are the only two irrigating systems that are exempt for trees.
In the Austin area, it is prohibited to waste water at any time of the year. There are many things that you can do in order to prevent waste. The first one is to use water-saving irrigation systems. Irrigation systems should be checked for broken sprinkler heads or misdirected sprinkler heads. In your home or business, you should always pay attention to any leaking pipes or faucets.
Why Austin Is In Stage Two Water Restrictions
Water restrictions currently set in the Austin area are due to water storage levels in Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis. Because of low levels and the fact that there has been no increased or significant rainfall, it was announced that stage two was being implemented in September of 2012. It is important that you always check the water conservation code as there have been new restrictions applied. Everyone who uses water which is supplied by Austin Water has to follow stage two regulations. If you have another provider, then they would be able to tell you about any restrictions in use.
Consequences For Schedule Violations
At the moment, any violation of the watering schedule will result in a fine. The amount of that fine depends on the current level of drought. Because Austin is in stage two currently, a residential fine would start at $75 each violation. Commercial fines start at $200 per violation. Reports of violations are sent in the mail via postcard. If you receive one of these postcards, it does not necessarily mean that there is a fine coming. However, you should attempt to correct the violation.
Opting for a sprinkler system that conserves water is helpful across the country, but especially important in drier climates like Texas. By opting for a system that conserves water, you can keep your plants, trees, and grass healthy without going past your allotted water consumption. In many cases, the best way to get a sprinkler system for conserving water is through your local tree experts, such as certified arborists. They can help you with these systems.
Drip Irrigation Systems
One of the most popular irrigation systems for water conservation is drip irrigation and although this is not technically a sprinkler system, it is somewhat related. Drip irrigation supplies water directly to a given plant, preventing excessive amounts from running off into the soil, where it would be useless and evaporate. It is perfect if you have a smaller yard or want to irrigate your plants individually.
Sensors for Rain And Soil Moisture
The most important feature of any sprinkler system to conserve water would be its sensors. It should ideally have rain as well as soil moisture sensors. The rain sensors will interrupt regularly scheduled watering times if it is raining as the extra water won’t be necessary. The best systems also have soil moisture sensors and these will analyze the moisture content of the soil and determine whether or not the sprinklers need to run at all, conserving water by restricting the sprinkler operation to times only when it is truly needed.
Using Irrigation Zones
Any expert will tell you that another key aspect of installing a sprinkler system to conserve water is relying on irrigation zones. This is the process of dividing the area to be watered into various divisions or zones based on their water needs. You therefore put plants that need a lot of water together and those that need very little together. This allows each plant to get enough water without wasting any extra on it.
Installing High Efficiency Nozzles
When you start looking at sprinkler systems to install, you will notice that there are many different nozzle heads available and some of these are better than others at conserving water. Rotary spray heads, for example, will usually involve a thicker stream of water and that means that less water evaporates or is carried by the wind so more reaches the plants, wasting less and therefore conserving water.
Timing Sprinkler System Use
In the case of timed sprinkler systems, it is important to set up their programs carefully after installing them as this will improve water conservation even more. The ideal is to set the sprinklers to run during the early morning as it is still cool outside, so less water will evaporate. If you were to use the sprinklers when the sun is at its fullest, much of the water will simply evaporate on contact with the plants or soil, being wasted.
Sprinkler Cycle Length
Most experts also suggest that you set up your water conserving sprinkler system in several short cycles as opposed to one longer one. This gives the water the opportunity to soak into the ground and plants between cycles, maximizing the percentage of water that is actually used.
When a city like Austin has been under drought restrictions as long as we have, it bears reviewing from time to time, what the rules are and why. By and large the citizens of Austin do a great job of water conservation. It can be trying at best when you’re trying to keep up the health of your trees and plantings, especially in a new landscape design. The City of Austin has to keep up its enforcement to insure that residents and commercial businesses alike continue to observe the Stage Two Watering Restrictions that have been in effect since September 2012.
When a sizable fine can be the price of a broken sprinkler head or a hole in a hose, we have an investment in helping all of our customers be able to readily recognize those irritating irrigation malfunctions. Of course there’s no substitution for a yearly or twice-yearly inspection of the system, but let’s spend some time today reviewing what makes a healthy system and offering some quick tips to identify those drip irrigation trouble spots.
When considering how to help our clients conserve water and best care for their lawns and landscaping, our goal is to provide a range of products and methods that will meet the varying needs and aims of our customers. Grey water irrigation is a method that needs to be taken under serious consideration because it is a resource that we all have at our fingertips and it is virtually cost-free. It involves some time to think through the plan, some permits and a few possible changes in habits. It pays you back handsomely.