How long and how often for each zone???

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Bob E, May 19, 2005.

  1. Bob E

    Bob E LawnSite Member
    Messages: 60

    I had a new irrigation system installed last fall during our lawn renovation. Since we were trying to get seed started I programmed the timer to run every day.

    Now (obviously the lawn is established) I know it does not need daily watering, but how often and for how long should each zone run?

    The system is composed of
    -15 Hunter I-20 rotors
    -12 weathermatic LX sprays
    -irritrol RD-900 9 zone controller
    -irritrol 2400 valves
    -rain brain 420gls rain sensor

    The system only covers the front yard (approx 15,000 ft2). there are 5 zones. 1st zone is 6 rotors, second zone is 6 rotors. These two zones cover the majority of the front yard. The third zone is 3 rotors for the area beside the house. Zone 4 and 5 are six weathermatic sprays each for the area between the driveway and neighbors yard.

    How long and how many days per week should I program the controller for?

    If it matters grass is turf type tall fescue blend from Lesco.
  2. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    once a week enough to put on 1&1/2 inches of water on your lawn.You can measure that by putting a few coffie cans in center of spray/rotor areas and watering tell that amount is in the can.It's hard to tell you because we don't know how well your lawn drains or dosen't drain.If it is sandy soil and fast draining,water more times a week.Slow draining , once a week.Rule of thumb is better to keep watering times farther apart and water deeply///
    than to water for short periods of time alot and water shallowly.Environmental factors and micro climates all come into play with this lawn watering question,so like I said it's hard to say.!
  3. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    I normally only recomend 1/2" at a time and about twice per week at peak season. Less in cooler weather. Judging from your listed location, your site is clay. The rotorary zones in your yard should be setup to run around 1/2" in one hour. Depending on nozzling, this could be a little less. Your spray zones will do 1/2" in 15 minutes or less. If your un-amended clay (which wouldn't suprise me), you may not be able to realize 1/2" of watering in one shot. Your Rain Dial will allow you to do multiple start times. Set up your stations to run 1/2 the total run time and program two start times. CAUTION!!! Do NOT overlap the run time. If start two is before start one is finished, you will have multiple zones running at one time. The Rain Dial is capable of running either 3 or 4 valves at one time (w/o looking at the spec's I don't remember which). I also like interval watering and would recomend every fourth day until your temperatures consitently break 90. Then I would switch to every third day. You will still be mowing grass in the worst heat and drought you will see watering every third day unless you are mowing at less than 2". Out of curiousity, which part of Louisville are you in? I grew up there and still have family around there :)
  4. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,759

    Most timers I see run only a single zone at a time, and if a start time is encountered during a watering cycle, it will be held in reserve until the cycle is ended.

    Every now and then, you see a homeowner who decides each zone should have its own start time, reprograms the clock accordingly, and phones for service because "the sprinklers won't stop running."
  5. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    The Irritrol Rain Dial is a little bit wierd on this point. Stacking doesn't occur until 3 valves are already running. The controller allows for 3 concurrent programs. Makes winerizing nice, but otherwise, this one feature is a pain.
  6. Bob E

    Bob E LawnSite Member
    Messages: 60


    Thanks for the response. I grew up in Shively (southwest side of Louisville) but now live in Oldham County.

    You are right to assume we have clay, I'm trying to amend it as much as possible. During the lawn renovation some new composted topsoil was brought in to help re-grade our drainage problems (mainly front yard). And I'm trying to move more to an organic approach to fertilizing using meals and other organic fertilizers trying to raise the level of organic matter in soil....But that is another forum.

    Most of the info I read recommends to water deeply and infrequently, does 1/2" twice a week fit this definition?

    I've never run a zone longer than 10 minutes, during the fall I had the rotor zones programmed for 10 minutes each and the spray for 7 minutes each every day, while trying to get the seed established.

    So I guess my best starting point would be to set the rotor zones for approx 30 minutes (1/2" per hour= 1/4" per 1/2 hour) and the spray zones for 8 minutes. Twice a day, but two days per week.

    So my program would be as follows (my run time would be 106 minutes so I would need to space the start times at least two hours apart);

    3:00 AM zone 1,2 3 for 30 minutes ea.: zone 4,5 for 8 minutes ea.
    5:00 AM zone 1,2 3 for 30 minutes ea.: zone 4,5 for 8 minutes ea.

    TUESDAY off


    3:00 AM zone 1,2 3 for 30 minutes ea.: zone 4,5 for 8 minutes ea.
    5:00 AM zone 1,2 3 for 30 minutes ea.: zone 4,5 for 8 minutes ea.

    FRIDAY off

    SATURDAY off

    SUNDAY off

    Does this sound right?
  7. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    This sounds OK, I like Monday/Friday or Tuesday/Saturday water because if you do have to move to more than twice / seven days, you can add wensday or thursday with ease. Lively Shively.........stomped some of that ground a time or two :)
    I was an East end kid though. LMHS '85. We took the rifle team out to Fern Valley for a meet once and you should have seen the looks we got with 5 white boys with big bull barrel weapons in a station wagon with our black Senior Instructor driving LOL

    Mom lives in Oldam county off Sly Go. Little brother is a Jefferson County cop living in Spencer County. This internet makes it a small world doesn't it.
  8. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    Does not sound right to me at all.Your watering zones 1/2/&3 for 2 hours a week.that's alot of water.
    And I will say once again it is better to water infrequently and for longer periods of time than frequently for short periods of time clay or not.
  9. Frog Lights  LLC

    Frog Lights LLC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 191

    In your area I would water .... spring 20 min/ per each grass zone and 2-5 min per shrub zone every other day. Summer run the same schedule every day. Increase and decrease the lawn zones in 5 min. increments depending on water needs. The shrub zone in 1 min. increments. This is how I advise my irrigation clients to set it. If the system was set up properly you will get great results... I have been installing irrigation close to 20 years. I now also manufacture outdoor lighting.
  10. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    Your first response to this thread recomended 1.5" of water per week. My recomendation is 1/2" per water day and water twice per week........With this setup, we are only watering about 1" per week with the option of adding the additional 1/2" if it is absolutely necessary in the worst of the summer. With almost every nozzle/model rotor configuration out there, your precip rate is going to be between .4" and .6" of equivalent precip per hour. I always recomend one hour of run to aprox. .5" unless I can determine on site that smaller or larger nozzles have been used.

    Agronomically, for turf, the available water comes from the top acre foot of soil. In general it takes 1" of water to hydrate 1' of soil. In soils that are more clay than not, only 50% of this water is plant available. The goal should be to replace the plant available water. At the summer's worst, we begin to lose water within the soil profile. Watering the equivalent of the moisture that should be plant available gives the target plants a chance to acquire that water first. It's not a perfect world and they're going to lose some, but putting the water that should be available will get them through in most US climates.

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