Simple steps to use less and save more

It only takes a few easy steps to begin receiving a weekly email that lets you know how much water your landscape actually requires based on local weather conditions. The email also shows the length of time to set on your irrigation system cycle. Simply visit WaterMyYard.org select a weather station near your location, determine how long to run your irrigation system, and begin to water your landscape more efficiently.

Landscape watering typically accounts for the majority of household water use during summer months. Higher water use increases water bills — and increases the demand on our water supply. An automatic sprinkler system provides a convenience, but people have a responsibility to operate their systems efficiently and effectively.

If you set your sprinkler system to run automatically and it is not programmed properly, you could use up to 35 percent more water than your neighbors without a sprinkler system.1 To maintain maximum control of your water use, operate your sprinkler system manually. However, if you decide to run your sprinkler system on the automatic setting, here are some helpful tips to ensure you don’t put an unnecessary strain on our water supply — or on your wallet.

Buying a new system

Hire a licensed irrigator if you decide to install an automatic sprinkler system. The licensed irrigator should be knowledgeable about hydrozoning and the most water-efficient irrigation technology.

Hydrozoning is the practice of separating landscape beds and turf areas, which have separate watering needs, into different irrigation or watering zones. (1)

Hydrozoning takes into consideration not only the varying watering needs of your landscape, but also differences in sunny and shaded areas.

Locate licensed irrigators in your area.

Identify the following on an automatic sprinkler system’s controller

When installing or replacing a sprinkler control box, opt for the new “smart” irrigation controllers that adjust watering run times by using weather data. These smart controllers base water application on the evapotranspiration (ET) rate. ET is a measure of the amount of water required to maximize plant growth given the prevailing temperature, precipitation, cloud cover and other factors.

Managing your sprinkler system controller

Know how to operate your sprinkler system controller. If you know it’s going to rain, turn the controller off for the day. Manual operation of your system is the best way to be water efficient. But if you set your system to operate automatically, be sure your controller is programmed properly.

Things to consider

You can lose as much as 30 percent of water to evaporation by watering midday.**

Basic sprinkler system controller features

Programming tips

The Useful Links page has links to several common brands.

Seasonal adjustments

Most people are not aware that lawns require different amounts of water in each season. As a result:

Most lawns are irrigated the same amount year-round, resulting in wasted water and money.


If your irrigation system is several years old, you might not be taking advantage of newer features, such as built-in rain sensors, water budgeting features, or a multiple schedule option.

Updating your sprinkler system controller could save you a significant amount of water and money each season.

Check with your city to see if it offers a rebate program to upgrade to a “smart” controller, and see if it offers irrigation audits.

* Green Building, United States Environmental Protection Agency (December 2, 2010). Water-Efficient Irrigation Systems and Practices. In Conserving Water. Retrieved from: http://www.epa.gov/greenhomes/ConserveWater.htm.

** Water Sense, United States Environmental Protection Agency. (June 11, 2012). Tips for Watering Wisely. Retrieved from: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/watering_tips.html.

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