Most folks need to save money whenever they can, and we all need to conserve water. This is a good time of year to do both.
Wastewater averaging is performed by many Texas cities during the period of mid-November to mid-March, the time when there is a lower requirement for outdoor water use. The less you use your irrigation system during these four months, the lower your bill for the upcoming year will be.
There are a number of things you can do to conserve the water used for your irrigation system.
Leaks. Leaks in your irrigation system can not only cost you a bundle, they can also damage your lawn and garden. The signs of some leaks are easy to spot, and some aren’t. If you spot mold and mildew on your grass or if your plants are suffering fungus damage, the chances are that you have a leak. If your sprinkler shoots dirty water, that’s an indication that soil is making its way into the line from a hole or a loose or broken connection. If the grass in the areas above the water lines or around the sprinkler heads is much greener or taller, something’s not working right. If you notice soil deposited on the pavement, you could have a broken sprinkler head. There are other signs of a leak such as soggy spots in the lawn, low water pressure, and soil erosion near sprinkler heads. Apart from the impact leaks can have on your water bill, they can also create other unexpected costs. Unrepaired leaks can cause below-ground cavities and sinkholes that could compromise sidewalks and patios. Having your irrigation system checked for leaks and any needed repairs made is a wise investment.
Insulation. Insulating above-ground pipes and valves and insulating your backflow prevention device will help guard against water freezing and cracking or bursting the pipes or devices. Even though Texas winters are usually relatively mild, the temperatures still can dip below freezing.
Don’t Overwater. In winter, the grass will go dormant and much less water will be lost to evaporation. Even so, your lawn will need to be watered once or twice a month to stay healthy and to support new growth in the spring, and you will have to supply what the rain does not. Watering early in the day allows enough time for the soil to absorb the water before the nighttime temperature drops. Many system controllers have a “seasonal adjust” setting that you can use to adjust the watering schedule to shorter periods. This feature allows you to make “global” changes to your system, rather than having to reprogram it. Check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to use this feature.
Mulch. Don’t remove the twigs and dead leaves from the garden. A layer of organic or inorganic mulch in the garden will help hold in the warmth and the water to protect plant roots until spring.
Weather-Based Smart Controllers. A weather-based smart controller uses local weather information to regulate irrigation cycles. Some of the smart controllers use pre-programmed historic data, others use on-site real-time data, and still others upload the information from public sources.
Sensors. This might be a good time to invest in some sensors. A freeze sensor will prevent your irrigation system from turning on when the temperature reaches a pre-set level (usually 35oF) so that you’re not putting water onto a frozen surface where it will just sit (and freeze). Not only is that a waste of resources, but walking on a frozen lawn can damage it. A rain sensor will turn the irrigation system off after a specified amount of rain has fallen (some can be set to shut the system off as soon as it starts to rain). The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TEQC) requires that all new automated irrigation systems and any repairs requiring a replacement controller include an approved rain sensor. A soil moisture sensor measures the soil moisture content in the root zone. If the soil is already moist enough, it will prevent the irrigation system from running. It will also sense if the soil gets too dry and turn the cycle back on.
South Austin Irrigation can provide custom scheduling, controller replacement and upgrades, system upgrades, leak detection and repairs and many other services to help you save money by saving water. Call us at (512) 534-7449 or fill out our online service request form.