Today’s irrigation systems contain sophisticated controllers that allow you to easily adjust water schedules to fit different needs.
These irrigation-scheduling devices determine when and how much water should be applied to your lawns or landscapes, with the result being reduced water and energy use and improved plant health.
An effective irrigation schedule reflects your property’s topography, climate, plant types, root depth, soil type, water infiltration rates, and evapotranspiration (ET) statistics for your area.
ET is a measure of the total amount of water evaporated from the soil and plant surfaces, plus the amount of water transpired by plants.
Factors such as temperature, wind, solar radiation, and latitude all determine the ET rate.
If you need help with this, visit the Irrigation Industry Association of B.C. (IIABC) website for access to the Landscape Irrigation Scheduling Calculator.
You can also hire an IIABC certified irrigation scheduler, who will use specific monitoring indicators to help determine your specific irrigation needs.
Consider soil type: Soils of various textures (e.g., sand, silt, clay) absorb and retain water differently.
Watering more than a specific soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.
You can make your soil more water efficient by regularly digging in organic matter (e.g., compost) or applying wood mulch (one centimetre cm for lawns, 10 cms for trees, shrubs and plants).
Get in the zone: Schedule each zone in your irrigation system to account for soil type, type of sprinkler, and sun or shade exposure.
Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.
Water only when needed: Saturate root zones and then let the soil dry.
Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.
Water at the best time: Watering during the heat of the day may cause evaporation losses of up to 30 per cent.
Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool, typically between evening and early morning.
Water more often for shorter periods: Setting your system to run for three, five-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, thereby reducing runoff.
Water plants only: Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or other buildings.
Adapt watering to the season.
Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on the seasonal weather conditions.
Or invest in a smart controller so your system can make these changes automatically.