Summertime Sprinkler System Checkup

Get Your Sprinkler System Ready for Summer

 

As we enter the dog days of summer here in Pinellas County, now is a good time to take a look at your sprinkler system to ensure you aren’t wasting water.

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This system is lacking a rain shutoff device.

The first thing you’ll want to check is your rain shutoff device. If you’ve ever seen a sprinkler system running during a rainstorm or shortly after one, it’s a safe bet that the shutoff device on that system isn’t working properly. A rain shutoff device is now required by law on all automatic irrigation systems.

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The cork disc rain sensor requires annual maintenance.

 

The basic type is a series of cork discs inside of a pvc housing. As the cork gets wet, it expands and breaks an electrical contact within the housing. This interrupts the irrigation cycle and keeps the system from running. Research suggests that this cork disc type dries out very quickly and has a very short lifespan before needing maintenance or replacement.

 

Michael Dukes, an assistant professor with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in Gainesville, holds equipment that measures soil moisture in a turfgrass research plot -- Thursday, July 21, 2005. He says automatic sprinkler systems equipped with soil moisture monitors use 56 percent less water on average than systems with no water-saving devices. The monitors detect moisture in the soil and control the operation of sprinkler systems. (AP photo by Josh Wickham/University of Florida/IFAS)

Soil moisture sensors are buried in the landscape.

 

 

The better option is a soil moisture sensor. This device is buried in the landscape and measures the moisture content of the soil and will interrupt the cycle based on moisture content. This type of device may require a variance to allow for irrigation outside of your regularly scheduled day. Contact your utility department for information on how to obtain the variance.

The last thing to check, is your irrigation scheduling. You always need to follow local watering restrictions, they’re the law. If you have an option, watering early in the morning is the best choice as it allows your plants time to dry out during the day, which reduces disease pressure. You’ll also want to take a look at your run time to be sure you’re applying 3/4″ of water per zone each time you irrigate. This is the optimal amount for all of our landscape plants in Florida. You can perform a simple catch can test to determine how much water you’re applying.

For more information on irrigation efficiency or any other Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ topics, contact the Pinellas County Extension office at (727)582-2100.

Resources:

Operation of Residential Irrigation Controllers: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ae220

Frequency of Residential Irrigation Maintenance Problems: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ae472

Catch Can Test for Irrigation: http://miami-dade.ifas.ufl.edu/pdfs/fyn/Catch_Can_Test_for_Irrigation.pdf