It is estimated that close to 50% of the water used by homeowners is used to water landscapes, of which a large part is put on our lawns. It has also been estimated that 20% to 80% of what is used is wasted. With water resources becoming ever harder to replace as each year goes by it is important that we better manage the water that is used, so that it isn't wasted to begin with.
One place to start on the road to better water management would be with the sprinkler clock that we all rely on to water our lawns. Most homeowners only set their clock once a year when they fire up their systems in the Spring. It just keeps on watering the same every week, every month, regardless of weather or temperature changes. This results in overwatering in the Spring and Fall and under watering in the hot months of Summer.
If not used properly the irrigation clock will actually waste more water than they were designed to save. Just like we adjust our thermostats for different times of the year, our sprinkler clocks must also be adjusted according to seasonal fluctuations. Our lawns do not need the same amount of water in April as in July. Run times must be changed throughout the growing season.
Grass will need less water in April, a little more in May, and a little more in June, with the maximum needed in July and August, and adjusting back down again during the Fall months. By slowly ramping up the water used to the peak demand period and back down again we are better able to manage water use for each season.
Start with peak demand, usually during June and July of each year. This would be the time of year when temperatures are hottest and the grass needs the most water. Set the sprinkler clock to run for the maximum length of time needed or 100% in June and July. Temperatures fall a little in August, allowing run times to be set at 80 % of maximum. May and September are cooler yet, so run times could be set at 60% of maximum. Even less water is needed by the grass in October, set run times to 40% of maximum. The grass would need the least amount of supplemental water in April, allowing run times to be set at 20% of maximum.
This is intended only as a guideline. Each year is different. If we experience lower than normal amounts of rainfall, run times would need to be adjusted upwards. With greater than normal rainfall, times could be adjusted downward. To water your lawn more efficiently learn to use your sprinkler clock to adjust run times and frequency for the time of the year.