Before you turn up your sprinkler system — and double your water bill — consider what areas of your landscape truly need water.
The first days of full scorch are here. Scorching sun in cloudless skies, high temperatures and blades of limp grass on the lawn when arriving home from work. Many homeowners greet this sight with the same solution: adding an evening cycle to the usual morning sprinkler system schedule.
It’s no wonder water consumption in San Antonio steeply increases at this time of year. Instead of just running in the morning, the sprinkler system is now running in the evening, too, and throughout the landscape — not just in areas that need it, like the scorching west-facing lawn, but in shaded areas and landscape beds that don’t.
Running the entire system twice uses twice as much water. And, once the sprinklers are set to run twice a day, they may continue to do so for the rest of the year — not just in July and August. The steep increase in consumption invariably leads to a wave of high bills, straining our infrastructure and your wallet.
> Don’t use a second start time to run the entire program cycle twice. Instead, identify your critical turf zones – the ones facing west in the afternoon. Critical zones can either be run manually (the best option) or, potentially, on a “B” program.
> If you use a second start time or a “B” program, remember to remove or deactivate it after August. There’s never a need to water twice a day after August, but typically these extra cycles will remain on the program for an indefinite period of time, leading to high water bills and water waste for the rest of the year, and often in spring as well, until you get the first spring sprinkler bill and realize the error.
> If you do run two cycles, then reduce both run times so the total run time is reduced. For example, if you normally run a zone for 22 minutes, run the two cycles for 15 minutes or 30 minutes total. This will still increase your bill, but when you follow the first bullet’s concepts, certainly not as much.
If you need help identifying critical zones or setting your irrigation system controller, SAWS offers free irrigation consultations. Schedule your free appointment today!
By Brad Wier, a SAWS conservation planner. Years in South Texas landscaping and public horticulture gave him a lasting enthusiasm for native plants that don’t die when sprinklers — and gardeners — break down. He’d rather save time and water for kayaking and tubing. He is a former kilt model, and hears hummingbirds.