View Full Version : watering schedule

06-12-2011, 06:00 PM
I have a few nice yards with irrigation that are starting to look bad. Everything around here is looking bad because it has been so hot and no rain. They usually run each zone about 5 minutes every morn but needs more water. What would be the best plan on when and how long to run the zones to get the yards more water. Thanks

06-12-2011, 06:07 PM
You really have to educate yourself here, best I can tell you in the short is the secret lies not in the frequency, but in the duration.
Watering too often or too much hurts our water supplies and the lawn may not benefit, some will actually suffer as a result.
Yes, you can water too much, too.

Because what you need is depth, the water needs to seep down in the ground and
the only way to get that is through exposure (read: time).
Water longer, not more often.

You're better off watering one day a week for 20 minutes than 7 days a week for 5.
Get that?
Every homeowner who is watering daily (or worse twice a day) is wasting water!
They could double the exposure while watering twice a week and come out ahead.

This is crucial, the world is running out of fresh water!
No, I am not joking.
Global water shortages

But there's more to it...
The entire irrigation system needs to be visually inspected, gone through zone by zone and inspect
each riser for function (make sure it works but that it's also turning), make sure
none are watering outside of a certain perimeter.
Check for leaks, correct any problems.

You have to study the shaiat, I can't explain it all, some sprinklers will cross,
with some that is good, but if an area is too wet it might need adjusting.

The zone timers have to be adjusted, so that it waters evenly meaning the dry areas get more, the wet areas less.

Another tip: NEVER control water systems "manually."
It's like a thermostat, once it's all set up it is best left alone.

And so on...
It takes time.

06-12-2011, 06:14 PM
early in the mornign is the best time. If you run them at night you are promoting diseases to form. Best time to water would be between 5am and 7am usually. This way the water can soak into the soil and keep it moist. The goal in watering is to get the soil wet about 6-10" below the surface. This will force the roots to "grow" deeper in search for more water. By ending at 7 the grass blades will be dry by about 10am (in most sunny areas). This will reduce the magnification of the blades of grass. If the grass is too wet during midday the water acts like a magnifying glass and bakes the sun and forces it to utilize more of the water in the soil thus not allowing for further root growth.

Sometimes you have to play around a little with each zone, but we try to run ours for 15-20 minutes usually. If an entire zone is in a really shaddy area, we may run it 7.5 minutes or something so then the water doesnt pool up. In an extremely sunny area that gets zero shade, we will run those for maybe 20minutes to get just a little extra water. Sometimes too we may split that up and do a 15 minute run in the morning and then another 5 minute run in the late afternoon (after 4 usually) very rare that we actually do that though.

Any yes topsites is correct, not everyday do you want to water the lawn. The beautiful thing is with an irrigation system you can program what runs when. So maybe those sunny areas we may water every other day, and those shaddy areas every 3 days or something. Longer, deeper waters less often is better than short watering more often. you want to soil to be nice and moist for a few days so then the roots can expand.

06-12-2011, 07:11 PM
Since we get no rain I can tell you our grasses do ok on 15 minutes twice a week. If there is any chance it will run off change heads to MPs and then water for 30 minutes. The mps are less affected by wind and the droplets are larger so you get no drift in the wind.

06-12-2011, 10:42 PM
Watering 5am to 7am isn't going to work when you've got 9 zones each set to 20 and 30 and a few to 40+ minutes either,
you can not just arbitrarily start a timer whenever you please, you have to start it depending on how long it takes to get through the cycle
and if you're watering for 5 and 10 and 15 minutes you might as well shut it down, don't even waste your time sprinkling around
in 100 degree weather that 5 minute bit of spittle isn't helping.

One other thing...
If you have a homeowner who is afraid of a 50 or 100 dollar water bill, you can forget the whole subject.
Don't even bother arguing with them, best to be patient and just let them do their thing,
but to water a lawn proper you need to drop some Hache Two OH!
Most people don't get it, or they don't want to, that's fine as well.

You ain't doing no good watering for short durations of less than 20 minutes, with few exceptions...
These exceptions are shady areas that receive little to NO sunlight all day.
Every other area likely needs more water, again most HO's whose systems I have inspected it's all wrong...
Most have it set up to water 5 to 7 days a week for quick bursts :nono:
5, 10 minutes, what a joke, why even have a system?

All that is doing is drawing roots up towards the surface of the soil, roots follow the water
and when you're just barely sprinkling the surface, roots will come to the surface.
Then when the sun hits, your lawn is toast.

Not 10 or 15 minutes, most zones in the deep of summer need 20-45 minutes or so, especially in full sunlight,
and once, maybe two days a week.
You're better off watering one day for 30 minutes than 7 days for 5.
So if your homeowner is watering for 10 minutes 5 days a week, you can set it to one day for 40 minutes and come out ahead
both in terms of how well the lawn does, and the dang water consumption and the resulting water bill.

To determine your start time:
You need to ADD individually the timers for each of the zones.
So for instance if Zone 1 is set to 27 minutes and zone 2 to 30, that's 57 minutes.
Add the rest of the zones and get yourself a grand total.

Once you have this grand total, subtract it from 6am.
The result is the time you want to start watering.
You want it to be FINISHED by 6 and I don't care if you have to start it at 1 to do so.
To finish any later is simply leaving water up for evaporation.

06-12-2011, 11:33 PM
yes exactly what topsites is saying. hes got the right idea. Bottom line is longer water less often. Get the roots to grow. Watering more often with less water will cause the roots to stay shallow and be useless.

You need to play around with each zone and kind of experiment. Some areas may only need a 10 or 15 minute watering pattern while others may need 45 minutes to an hour so the soil gets soaked. You want to have the sprinklers come on again just as the soil is starting to dry up, but not completely dry. Remember hills, areas along driveways, along the house, the south and west side of the property all dry out much quicker and need more water.

Between 6 and 7 finish time is right on. Right about 10am or so is when the sun starts to get hotter. So you want the water to be dried off the blades before that. Otherwise like I said, its just going to cook the lawn and use up all that water way faster and its going to be useless. Then you will be watering way more often than needed.

06-12-2011, 11:35 PM
I am going to one of my nice lawns tomorrow to do mulch. Would you say I would be safe to just set the timer to do every other day in the early morn for 20 min per zone. The homeowner is not concerned with the water bill he just wants it to stay green and not burn up. Thanks for the replies

06-13-2011, 08:42 AM
It depends on what the areas are like. I would maybe go like 30 minutes every 3 days or so. Your best bet is to generally water 2xs per week. The lawn will be green if you do that becasue your promoting deeper root growth. Do that, and Just be sure to have it so you mow on a day the water is off. Like water Tuesdays and Fridays or something. That way you can mow on wednesdays or thursdays, and the actual blades of grass are not soaking wet.

06-13-2011, 08:53 AM
I've always heard that you want an inch a week. Turn them on, place a few rain gauges around the lawn in different zones. Run them for 10 or 15 min and do some math.

Split the times up between two or three times a week, and tadah!

With the soil around here, I try and make them water as far away *before* from the day I plan on mowing. Most people here have a damned swamp for a lawn, and are afraid of not keeping the ground "WET"!! Almost makes me hate sprinklers all together. They never listen to me tho and it seems like I always pull up and their is water on walks and drives. I can't get it through their thick skulls that they are actually hurting their own lawns.

06-13-2011, 09:44 AM
Water just enough to soak the root zone, then let it dry almost to the point of wilt, then soak the root zone again...

The question is always asked "How long to soak the root zone?" Odd question, since every lawn is different and soils and real thatch makes a huge difference in how they should be handled...

But the pro lcos always say the same thing, w/out ever advising to look at the root zone and see... Just guess is good enough... :)

06-13-2011, 09:46 AM
The world running out of fresh water... :laugh:

Where is it going? Is the water cycle broken? Is it raining salt water now?

Let's all move to the desert so we can say, the world is running out of water... :laugh:

desert rose gardening
06-13-2011, 10:16 AM
I live and work in southern California, we get no rain from May to November, the only way we can keep grass growing out here is to water three times a week in the early morning for 20 mins and that barley keeps them green.

06-13-2011, 11:34 PM
I live and work in southern California, we get no rain from May to November, the only way we can keep grass growing out here is to water three times a week in the early morning for 20 mins and that barley keeps them green.

So the world is running out of "Fresh Water" around the Planet, because S. Californian desert can only grow grass by irrigating 3 times a week between May and November... :laugh:

Are we running out of fresh water or has it come to a point that we can't make every little bit of the desert "Blossom" any more??? Give me a break!!!

What are you thinking?... Living in a desert and growing grass?!!??!

It is no wonder that the NWO needs to step in and tell "Everyone" how to mange their property...

Tell you what... I won't burn fossil fuels in Wisco to grow Papayas, and you don't channel excessive water to grow fescue in S. Cal... Stupid is... as Stupid does... :)

06-14-2011, 02:32 AM
I water my yards by hand every other day, but when I DO water, the place looks like a marsh when I'm done.

I don't use no sprinkler on the hose either; the place gets flooded faster that way. Pour it on baby!! :weightlifter:

06-14-2011, 07:47 AM
Lol...big fan of the comments made by smallaxe in this thread....especially where he said after watering, let it dry almost to the point of wilt.

06-14-2011, 12:25 PM
I way over-watered my newly sodded lawn, because I didn't know any better until I found this site. I guess I erred seriously on the side over irrigation given that it has been 6 weeks only since the sod went down, and we have had terrible heat and drought in DC since day 1. Despite all that, the ground seems pretty damp after 3 days of no watering or rain, with good sunshine. I'm hoping it will dry out a bit today.

Although it still looks pretty good overall, I have what I think is brown patch developing in spots, and the grass is pretty wilted and matted in some places, especially where I had stupidly thrown on some TTTF seed early on, which grew, wilted, and made a thatch problem worse. The lawn is definitely thinning and maybe going dormant too, give that we had 102F weather last week. But I think the big problem is melt due to over watering on not so good draining soil.

The good news It's a 20 by 15 postage stamp lawn, so I was thinking of taking the leaf rake to get the turf more upright and remove the rotted out grass. I was then going to lightly overseed with Thermal Blue where the grass is thin and brown. I will use the nozzle to mist the lawn, but hold off on deep watering until the ground isn't so damp. Do u think all this is a good idea? I think the sod is TTTF with some KB. I should have sodded with all KB, because the clay soil is pretty hard here and TTTF isn't going to root real deep anyway. Plus, I really don't like the look of TTF, and am willing to do the work of maitaining it properly. PS, I decided to fertilize with Miracle Gro all purpose to get some phosphourous in there, instead of all N, like most lawn fertilizers.

06-14-2011, 01:45 PM
My advise to everyone here is to hire a professional irrigator (NOT a lawn boy) who knows how to schedule irrigation (many do not), because to this point there has been very little (if any) accurate information presented in this thread.

06-14-2011, 02:01 PM
My advise to everyone here is to hire a professional irrigator (NOT a lawn boy) who knows how to schedule irrigation (many do not), because to this point there has been very little (if any) accurate information presented in this thread.Somehow, I don't think I can afford a professional irrigator for my 20 x 15 lawn. I can barely afford a dentist.

06-14-2011, 08:53 PM
My advise to everyone here is to hire a professional irrigator (NOT a lawn boy) who knows how to schedule irrigation (many do not), because to this point there has been very little (if any) accurate information presented in this thread.

Do you have any tips for those of us that may be wrong?

06-14-2011, 09:57 PM
My advise to everyone here is to hire a professional irrigator (NOT a lawn boy) who knows how to schedule irrigation (many do not), because to this point there has been very little (if any) accurate information presented in this thread.

Specific watering times vary considerably. "Time" in and of itself is not the question, but rather how much water is being put out by the individual system. The amount of water needed varies considerably by turf type, soil type and climate (evapotraspiration rates).

But now communities step in and dictate watering schedules based on distribution, not on agronomy. Maybe that's a good thing . . .

Three years ago, during (our usual) bad drought, the people in one section of town woke up on Sunday morning, did what we all do when we get up, and there was no water to flush! They had run the water tank dry the night before from irrigation. This is a big retirement community of 7,000 homes.

Well, the outrage was palpable, "It's an infrastructure problem!" "We pay taxes! We need another water tower!"

No, it was strictly a problem of wasting water. That section of town comprises 15% of the towns population, but uses 70% of the city's water! Many people were watering 7 days a week, some would water at 4:00 in the afternoon during 100 degree days. Just silly.

But rather than teaching people to water properly, the city just mandates an odd-even schedule, with no watering on Mondays.

06-15-2011, 07:13 AM
We have had a wet spring and a lot of rain... Planted a couple of trees in a clay lawn, after a big soaking rain, and 2" under the turf was bone dry and rock hard... Where does all that water go?

What this lawn needs is 1" of water at the rate of 1/3" @ 3 times per week?
or 1/2" @ 2 times per week?

06-15-2011, 08:33 AM
Do you have any tips for those of us that may be wrong?

To get you started.





06-15-2011, 09:36 AM
To get you started.




http://ucanr.org/freepubs/docs/8395.pdfThese are super interesting, and thanks! But one thing I have noticed with the government type pubs. They are trying to balance a lot of competing interest groups, from environmentalists, to builders, the industry etc. That is understandable, but it is also a type of bias. I am interested in getting a great lawn. That is different from what keeps the rest of mankind happy with my water use. I'm just saying, even though I respect the environmental needs etc., I take the advice the gov gives with a grain of salt. We all have our agenda, and they do too. It's not always the best for a great looking lawn.

06-15-2011, 10:01 AM
There is only one "gov't" publication (the EPA one which just outlines some well established irrigation scheduling methodologies). Two are University publications with one of those in collaboration with the CA DWR (WUCOL), the other is one provided by a highly respected manufacturer, again, simply outlining well established knowledge and methodologies. Beyond that, the methodology outlined in the WUCOL document is utilized by every smart irrigation controller on the market to my knowledge. Bottom line, the core methodologies outlined here are well established in scientific literature and have been used for many decades in agriculture (with exception to some of the landscape specific coefficients in WUCOL). It would be to your benefit to read and learn.

06-15-2011, 11:52 AM
Thanks Kiril. I will enjoy reading them, although there is a lot to "absorb" no pun intended. : )