We install two general types of irrigation systems; professional grade for customers that need a permanent system for watering turf and landscape plants and an economic system for only watering landscape plants and perhaps small areas of turf. The economic systems operate from an Orbit model 27752 water timer that is installed on an outdoor water spigot. The professional systems are directly connected to the water main at high pressure and have a Rainbird Irrigation Controller. If you have an Orbit water timer, please refer to the drop-down menu to the left of this page for the manufacturer’s product manual.
We program all of our Irrigation controllers the same:
We always program the turf to run on program “A”:
We usually set the turf irrigation to start at 1am and then again at 3am. The reason for that is to provide what is called a “soak cycle”. It allows the ground to have all the water that it needs, but since clay soil is very impermeable, it cannot absorb all the water at once, so we have to apply all the water it can absorb at once and then give it a couple of hours to penetrate into the ground and then apply the remaining water once it is ready to absorb the rest.
Typically spray heads should be set to run for 1- 5 minutes. 1 minute for heavy shade exposure and up to five minutes for heavy sun exposure. Rotors should be set to run for 3- 9 minutes. 3 minutes for heavy shade exposure and up to 9 minutes for heavy sun exposure.
If the grade of the yard is steep the potential for run-off is very high. The watering run times will need to be lowered even more and increase the number of soak cycles.
The frequency should be every three days in the spring and fall; every two days in early summer; and the frequency should be every day during the heat of the summer.
We always program the annual misters to run on program “B”:
We usually program the annual misters to start at 8am and run for 5- 10 minutes depending on their sun exposure. The frequency should be every three days in the spring and fall; every two days in early summer; and the frequency should be every day during the heat of the summer.
We utilize program “C” for temporary programming for turf establishment, such as installing new sod, or aeration and over-seeding during the fall when you need to run the irrigation one additional time during the day in order to keep the ground moist to maximize seed germination.
A 3- 5 minute run time on spray heads or a 10- 15 minute run time for rotors will be sufficient. It is inefficient to water during the day, which is why we typically run the irrigation during the early morning hours; though if you allow the ground to dry up while trying to establish sod or seed, the stress can kill the grass. The point is just to counter-act the moisture that is lost from the ground from the day’s heat until the watering occurs again the following morning. You just want to keep the ground moist, not dry or saturated. If the summer heat is intense, it may be necessary to lightly water the turf twice during the day.
If we only need to water the grass once a day to keep it moist and get it established, we may set the mid-day watering for noon.
If we need to water the grass twice a day to keep it moist and get it established, we may set the mid-day watering for 11am and again at 3pm.
We always program the drip irrigation to run on program “D”: If there is no program “D” available, we use program “C”instead.
We prefer to run the drip irrigation late at night when evapo-transpiration rates are at the lowest and the plants are able to consume most of the water. Our usual start time for drip irrigation is 10 pm. It is important that the drip irrigation finish running prior to the turf irrigation starting. The typical run times for drip irrigation are between 60 & 90 minutes. We typically set the frequency of watering for every two to three days. If the soil is more porous than usual or if there is high competition for the water with natural area trees, we usually choose a two day frequency. If the soils are the typical heavy clay, we will opt for a 3 day frequency. Usually in heavy clay soils, it is better to water plants more heavily and less frequently since the clay soils tend to hold water for a long time and it is easy for plants to drown.
During some of our very hot summers, when the temperatures are up in the 90’s for several days without frequent rain, the ground becomes so dry that it wicks the moisture away from the plant root balls much faster than normal. During those times, it will be necessary to increase the watering frequency to every day and decrease the run time to keep the plant roots lightly moist at all times.