Properly setting your lawn irrigation system
You have signed up for us to properly fertilize and maintain your lawn and you have a lawn irrigation system – everything should be green and perfect right?
The truth is most lawn irrigation systems in Cincinnati are not properly set and an irrigation system not set correctly will do more harm than good for your lawn and plants.
Sprinkler system installers and lawn irrigation start up companies are not usually a reliable source for setting your system properly. You must double check the settings to be sure it doing positive work for your lawn.
A system not programmed correctly will encourage disease and root issues. However, getting your sprinkler system set right shouldn’t be overly complicated as there are just three primary settings to check: Timing, Length, and Frequency.
Proper lawn irrigation settings for lawn zones
Timing: What time of the day should the system run? This is vitally important. If the system runs at the wrong time you will breed diseases in your turf that your neighbors without lawn irrigation will not see. Preferably, your last lawn irrigation cycle should end no later than 9:00am and no earlier than 7 or 7:30am. Your system should always run in the early morning. When turf stays wet for long periods (like overnight or for several hours until the sun comes up) diseases will very quickly fester. Watering your lawn too late in day will result in more water being evaporated.
Length: Based on significant university research – lawn irrigation systems should provide water deeply and infrequently. This means when you run your sprinkler system it should run for a very long period of time. Ohio lawns need about 1” of water each week to stay green throughout the growing season. Most lawn irrigation systems will need to run one to two hours per zone to put out this much water. One inch of water is enough to wet the soil to a depth of about 6-8 inches. Watering your lawn at this depth will encourage deep roots and healthy, green turf. Use a rain gauge or set up a straight sided cup in the lawn to determine how long your system needs to run to put down 1” of water.
Frequency: Again watering your lawn should be done deeply (1” of water) and infrequently. In other words, you should water once a week for 1” of water per zone rather than every day for 15 minutes. At most, your lawn irrigation system should run twice a week – each time putting down ½” of water. A system that runs only once a week would be preferable. Also be sure to remember that the 1” of water needed weekly for your lawn also includes rain water so be sure to adjust your system down during rainy periods. In our opinion, a rain gauge is a must have item if your serious about your lawn. With a rain gauge you can monitor total water amounts from rainfall and your lawn irrigation system.
To summarize the above in one sentence: Lawn irrigation systems should run in the morning and water infrequently and deeply (1” of water per zone) when needed.
The same strategy will work well for your planting bed watering as well. Trees and shrubs also benefit from deep and infrequent watering.