Utah Lawn Irrigation Alternatives

Answered by Jeffrey ~ November 10, 2010 ~ Comments

My 1/2 acre yard near Ogden, Utah, has pop-up Rain Bird rotating sprayers . I know that wastes water to evaporation. Are there any alternatives that wouldn't require the cost of digging up the whole irrigation system?

Chad U. ~ Ogden, Utah

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Chad, You don't mention how long you've had your irrigation system or how familiar you are with its operation, but in my experience most issues with excess water usage through an irrigation system can be adjusted through the control box.

I used to have irrigation systems installed for the landscaping and lawns when I was building new homes and even though I would give lengthy instruction to the new owners on how to properly operate the systems prior to their moving in, they often felt they knew better and ended up with monthly water bills in the hundreds of dollars. That usually resulted in a call about a possible water leak in the system, but 90 percent of the time it was because they had changed the settings in the control box.

There is always going to be a little bit of evaporation from your irrigation lines, but if you set up your irrigation system zones so that your watering is being done early in the morning or later in the evening, it should keep evaporation to a minimum.

Another tip for saving water is to have a couple of short watering sessions rather than one lengthy session. Your yard and the type of soil it has can only absorbwater at a certain rate and when you exceed that rate the water will begin running off and pooling in low spots. Water that sits is either going to evaporate or eventually be absorbed, but not always in the area where it was intended. Rather than have a particular zone run for 30 minutes set it up to run for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. If your grass begins to appear dry, extend the sessions to 15 minutes each.

Too much water is just as bad for a lawn as too little and it's also bad for your wallet and energy conservation. I suggest turning the timing back on all of your zones and watching to see what affect it has on the grass and your landscaping. Some areas of your lawn are probably going to need more water than others so you'll have to keep a close watch when adjusting your irrigation system zones so that you don't cut the watering back too much.

If all of your irrigation heads are the rotating type, then you might want to make some adjustments in that area also. Rotating heads usually put out too much water for planting beds and landscaping; you would be better off with pop-up misting heads in those areas and save water at the same time. I don't know if Rain Bird has those types of heads, but I would think that they would. Even if they don't other irrigation companies in the Ogden, Utah area ought to have them and changing heads is usually just a matter of digging down to the line and making the switch. Irrigation lines are normally not very deep as they are drained when the temperatures are below freezing and most companies use lines that are very similar.

If you have an irrigation company come out, ask them if there are any places where you could use drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is very efficient and is good for trees and large shrubs in that it allows water to go directly to the root systems where it's needed.

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