If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ve noticed we’re talking a lot about wateringschedule.com. This is our newest development here at Orbit and is a free website that we hope will help people cut back on water usage and make their lawns look better. What’s not to love about that?
Catch cups and sprinkler audits have been around a long time and are nothing revolutionary. But in the past they required expensive and inaccurate devices. After a sample was taken the user had to shuffle through confusing mountains of graphs and charts to determine what it all meant. You almost needed a PhD in irrigation to make sense of it all. But what we’ve done is taken all this complex information like Evapotranspiration (ET) rates, soil textures, climate data, etc. We’ve worked out a number of equations that our website solves for you in seconds. All we need is your zip code, soil type and the readouts from the catch cups. The website is the easiest part–though the rest of the process is pretty simple too.
As we head into the warmer summer months, many are going to get a shock on their water bill. So why not give wateringschedule.com and our catch cups a try? Your grass will thank you, your wallet will thank you and our drought stricken world will thank you.
Recently, a customer asked one of our representatives why they should perform a sprinkler system audit, like the ones available through wateringschedule.com, when water wasn’t an issue for them. This customer lived in an area that wasn’t affected by drought conditions, so there were no municipal restrictions being placed on their water. In fact, for a small flat fee ($100/year in this case) they could use as much water as they wanted. So why not just water every day?
Well, the answer isn’t what the customer expected. We all know our lawns can suffer from underwatering, but few understand the dangers or recognize the signs of overwatering. Too much water can kill the grass by drowning it, but this is rare. Grass is a very resilient plant. More commonly, overwatering contributes to disease and fungus and to shallow roots, which cause the grass to become stressed more easily. Because most people water at night the signs of overwatering tend to disappear by the time we wake up. In fact, if, like most people, you get up and go straight to work without ever stepping foot on your lawn, then it has between twelve and eighteen hours to dry before you can see the evidence. So it’s important to run tests when you can observe the results. So what to look for? Soggy ground is probably the biggest thing. Also, look for pools of runoff. And finally, lawn diseases can be due to too much water.
So how to get it right? Start by performing a sprinkler audit using the tools and tests described at wateringschedule.com. The site will walk you through the whole process and it’s free. It will give you a watering schedule customized to your location and soil type. Next, keep an eye on things. Maybe allot yourself a few extra minutes in the morning to walk your lawn and feel for any trouble spots. Look for runoff and puddles. Run your system–even just in test mode–at least once a month (we recommend once a week) and look for geysers and broken heads.
Does this sound familiar? You’re going along, watering your lawn like you think you should be and then one day you notice dry spots. You verify the sprinklers are all working fine, and that it’s not disease, but not matter what you can’t get the spots to go away. The likely answer is to be found in your watering uniformity. Uniformity is the evening of water distribution. See, as a sprinkler sprays the water pattern becomes thinner as is goes outward. Hence the need for head-to-head coverage. But if the heads may look good on paper, and you can’t see any problems when running them, there still might be major problems in the distribution. This is where catch cups can give you some important insights.
Perform a Sprinkler System Audit
To perform a sprinkler audit, deploy the catch cups evenly and run the applicable zone. While you watch how each head is spraying, the cups are gathering water. Make sure the heads are popping up and are spraying correctly (being free from debris). Also, make sure the water is getting on the lawn and not your sidewalk, patio or driveway. Adjustments may need to be made. Then, when the cycle is done (we recommend running the zone for at least 10 minutes), gather the findings. Do you notice any areas getting disproportionately more or less water than the others? These represent problem areas that should be investigated further. You can enter the findings into wateringschedule.com and you’ll get a free, customized water schedule for your current layout. You’ll also see valuable data, such as your uniformity. You want this number to be as high as possible (though 100% uniformity isn’t realistically possible, anywhere above 80% is great). You can even play around with the numbers to see how much improving uniformity would affect the amount of water needed. Altogether this process will take you about 30 minutes (add 15 minutes for each zone), but can yield tens-of-thousands of gallons of water saved over the course of a summer; well worth the time.