Importance of Irrigation Controllers
A large part of our household water use goes to watering our landscape and many households rely on automatic irrigation systems to accomplish this. One of the most important components of an automatic irrigation system is the irrigation controller (also called the timer or clock). The controller turns the irrigation system on and off at the times you select. In other words, the controller controls the irrigation system and you control the controller. Having a controller with certain minimum performance capabilities is vital to efficient watering. The right controller, properly scheduled, can result in significant water savings and lower water bills.
Other Important Components of an Efficient Irrigation System
Besides obtaining an irrigation controller with the recommended features, there are other, there are other irrigation components that should be used with irrigation systems to save additional water. Control valves control the flow of water to different parts of the landscape and are used for separate watering of plants with different watering needs. Check valves can be installed in sprinkler heads to prevent water from draining out of the irrigation line when the water is turned off and are most useful on sloped landscapes. Rain shutoff devices can be wired to a controller to shut the system when it is raining. Moisture sensors can be wired to control valves to override the call for water if they "sense" that enough moisture is already present in the soil. Moisture sensors, therefore, "monitor" the irrigation schedule for over watering. Drip or bubbler irrigation can be used to irrigate slowly and minimize or eliminate evaporation, runoff, and overspray. Finally, low precipitation spray, stream, and sprinkler, and sprinkler heads with matching precipitation rates can dramatically improve efficiency.
It is important to note that automatic irrigation systems, if not properly managed, can waste a lot of water. Always be mindful that YOU are the "brains" behind your irrigation system scheduling and YOU control the controller.
Other Water Saving Landscape Practices
Besides proper irrigation system design and scheduling, water use efficiency in the landscape can also be increased through appropriate use of plant material, soil preparation, and proper horticultural practices (maintenance). Extensive use of plants suited for the climate of the region should be considered before you landscape. Plants should be grouped, as much as practical, according to their water requirements. Proper horticultural practices that include regular pruning, weeding, lawn aerating and dethatching, and the use of mulches and fertilizers should be followed.
For more detailed information regarding water saving opportunities in the landscape contact your local water agency, irrigations supply store, or landscape professional.