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Water Conservation Tips from Rain Bird

Avoid Runoff with Cycle & Soak Watering

This week's tip will help you avoid a common water waste problem that affects many homeowners -- sprinkler runoff.

How much and how long to apply water depends on the type of soil that is being watered.  Hard, compacted soil takes considerably longer to absorb water than loose granular soil.  In order to maximize water use and prevent runoff, use the cycle and soak method of irrigation.

For example instead of watering all at once, set your sprinklers to water grass:

  • 3 times a day
  • 4 minutes each watering zone
  • 1 hour in between each watering cycle

Watering in increments gives compacted soil adequate time to soak up water. Once the water from the first round of watering is absorbed, then water again about an hour later. The already moist soil will enable additional water to travel even deeper to the roots and in turn, create a healthier lawn.

Applying too much water in one increment results in the ground reaching a saturation point meaning any additional water will run-off and be wasted.

Different types of grass and soil will require differing amounts of water.  In order to determine how deeply the water is penetrating into the soil in your yard, all that's needed is a shovel. Simply pick an area of the lawn that is irrigated and about 30 minutes after watering, dig a small hole, and use your hand to determine how deeply the water has penetrated.

In most lawn and garden situations, it's best if water is penetrating 6 to 8 inches beneath the surface of the soil.  If the soil is still dry at this depth, then another cycle may be needed to encourage deep root growth.