Scheduling Spring Turn-ons

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Information provided by the Irrigation Association

Learn more about outdoor water conservation and how “smart” controllers work to reduce your outdoor water use, keep your landscape more attractive and healthy, and save you money every month on your water bill.

What is a “smart” irrigation controller?

“Irrigation controller” is a term that irrigation and landscape professionals often use when referring to the device (typically a “timer”) that controls your business’s outdoor sprinkler system. However, unlike timers, which water on a set schedule, “smart” irrigation controllers use weather, site or soil moisture data as a basis for determining an appropriate watering schedule.

Also known as “climate-based,” “ET- or Evapotranspiration-based,” or “soil moisture sensor-based” controllers, “smart” irrigation controllers have an extensive history of scientific and field documentation. Golf courses, parks and athletic departments have used climate-based irrigation systems for more than 20 years. And now, this scheduling technology is available for landscapes through “smart” controllers.

How do “smart” irrigation controllers work?

Traditional irrigation system controllers are really just timers. They turn the water on and off based on a pre-programmed schedule, regardless of the actual weather conditions. “Smart” irrigation controllers, on the other hand, monitor and use information about environmental conditions for a specific location and landscape, information such as soil moisture, rain, wind, evaporation rates, plant transpiration rates, and more, to determine when to water and when not to in order to provide the right amount of water to maintain lush, healthy growing conditions.

Because “smart” irrigation controllers are more efficient than traditional, timer-based controllers, they maximize water use efficiency, often reducing usage by 30% or more, which saves you money and makes a large, positive impact on your community’s efforts to assure the local water supply.

Automatic sprinkler system basics

“Smart” controllers are an important part of any water-efficient irrigation system. But building an optimal system means taking into account all the factors that can impact water use.

The Controller is the “brain” of the system, controlling when the water is turned on and off. Controllers range from simple timers to “smart” irrigation controllers, which adjust watering schedules based on site-specific weather conditions, or soil moisture. Valves open and close the flow of water as directed by the controller. Each valve controls a group of sprinklers (also called a “zone” or “station”).

Sprinklers apply the water directly to the landscape. Efficient, well-functioning sprinkler heads are critical to the overall effectiveness of any irrigation system.

System Design consists of pipe configuration and sizing which are the foundation for effective delivery of water to your lawn and garden.

Maintenance is required because ordinary wear and tear can reduce the efficiency of an irrigation system. A seasonal maintenance regimen will help your sprinklers keep your landscape green while watering efficiently.


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