Water Conservation Tip No. 1

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Automatic sprinkling systems were first used in Texas in the 1950s and 60s, but it wasn’t until the 1980s and 90s that they became commonplace. They are among gardeners’ best friends in tending to Texas lawns and landscapes. But they can also be less-than-efficient in their use of water.

Hire a professional irrigation contractor to do a thorough analysis of your system every year, preferably before the watering season begins. Or, at least put it through its paces yourself. Here are some guidelines.


Have someone advance the clock manually while you go from station to station looking for broken, clogged or misaligned heads. It’s really quite simple to take a sprinkler head apart and clean out its filter, then put it back together again.


If a station appears to have low water pressure look for a broken pipe or head bubbling somewhere within it.


Trim away new growth that blocks even distribution of the sprays or install extenders to elevate the heads.


If you find wet spots in your lawn several days after any irrigation or rainfall you may have a stuck valve. When that happens the water will drip slowly as it saturates the ground around the lowest head served by that valve. If that’s what is happening you’ll have to consult your installation plan to locate the valve. Make whatever repairs are necessary to solve the problem. You may be able to clean the valve or install new seals, or you may have to replace it entirely.


Adjust your system so that all stations dry out at roughly the same time. The times the various stations run will vary. They almost assuredly will not be the same.


We have always recommended leaving your sprinkler system in the Manual mode so that you can determine when it’s time to irrigate. It takes only a moment to turn the system on. Relying on a timer alone is not a responsible way to use our water resources.


Sensing devices and sprinkler equipment in general have become much more sophisticated. Work with a professional and trust the advice you are given.

Water conservation is everyone’s job. Here in Texas our next drought could start tomorrow. We all need to do our part so that we all can enjoy the world’s greatest hobby.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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