Sprinkler System Watering Tips

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Watering and system scheduling
  • Schedule each zone on your sprinkler system based upon sprinkler type, the amount of sun and shade in the zone, and the type of soil and plants.
  • Water your lawn early in the morning. Water evaporates midday, and a wet lawn can cause fungus growth at night. Your sprinkler system will water turf most efficiently between 4am and 8am.
  • Avoid watering during high winds.
  • Turn your sprinkler off when it rains or install a rain sensor to do it for you.
  • Adjust your controller settings to water less during the spring and fall. A good rule of thumb for watering turf is to apply 1-1.5 inches per week during peak heat season (July and August). Water less in May and June, and by Labor Day reduce watering to once per week to prepare grass for winter dormancy.
  • Experiment with your lawn by watering in cycles (e.g. instead of 20 minutes at once, try two cycles of 10 minutes on, 45 minutes off) to allow water to penetrate deeper into the soil - creating a healthier lawn with less water.
  • Try taking 2 minutes off the watering times for each zone.  If that works and your lawn stays green, take off another 2 minutes.
  • Water only when your lawn needs it. Fescue blends should only be watered upon signs of stress (dark blue colors or wilting). Watering 3 days per week is more than sufficient.
System maintenance
  • Inspect your sprinkler system monthly! Check for leaks, broken or clogged heads, and other problems. Contact your sprinkler system professional if you have questions.  Don't have one?  Check out our list of Approved Providers here.
  • Check your sprinkler heads for obstructions and to ensure they are watering the area evenly.  Adjust heads to keep water from hitting driveways and sidewalks.

DIY Sprinkler System Check-Up Tips:

When assessing your sprinkler system pay close attention to the following:

  • Are all of the sprinklers popping up to their intended height? (gently pull up risers that look low).
  • Are any sprinklers tilted relative to a flat surface? 
  • Are any sprinklers directed toward or away from a steep slope? 
  • Are any sprinklers being obstructed by tall grass, plants, trees, fences, etc.? 
  • Do any sprinkler heads appear damaged or broken? 
  • Are any sprinkler heads misting? (high operating water pressure may cause this).
  • Are any sprinkler heads watering rock/much landscape beds (with shrubs or perennials)? 
  • Do the sprinklers in each zone have consistent spacing? 
  • Does each zone have head-to-head coverage? (where each sprinkler is throwing water to the next one).
  • Do all sprinklers have an effective arc (do they rotate too much or too little)? 
  • Do all sprinklers have an effective throw distance (is there any over-spray onto pavement)?
  • Do the sprinklers in each zone have matched precipitation rates (inches of water applied/hour)?
  • What type of micro-climate does each zone have (full sun, part shade, or full shade)?
  • Install a 'Smart' controller that calculates and automatically adjusts a watering schedule to meet the specific needs of your landscape.
  • Install MSMT (multi stream multi trajectory) nozzles that deliver water to the turf more efficiently than traditional spray heads. A significant amount of water from a spray head can be lost to evaporation and drift.
  • Install a rain sensor! Rain sensors turn off your system when it rains. When the sensor dries, the connection opens and allows the system to resume normal operations.

Keep more green in your lawn and pocket by participating in the City of Bozeman's Sprinkler System Rebate Program.  Click here to see if you qualify for rebates on smart controllers, MSMT nozzles, and rain sensors!