How to Calibrate an Irrigation System

As any property owner knows, taking care of your lawn can quickly become one of the biggest expenses in landscape management. Among them, the high cost of water can sometimes deter property owners from planting certain kinds of plants. This can also apply to grass, which also requires frequent watering to stay green and healthy.

Calibrating an irrigation system has been found to be one of the most effective ways of managing water-guzzling plants without spending a fortune on water bills. Luckily, it can be easy to implement on your own with products you may likely already have. 

Why is Calibrating an Irrigation System So Important?

First, what is calibration? To calibrate something means measuring exactly how much of a substance is placed over an area within a certain amount of time.

There are several reasons why calibrating an irrigation system is important. Not only is frequent watering expensive, it can also cause lawn problems, including fungal diseases, poor growth, bacterial disease, and insect proliferation. Monitoring exactly how much water is being used – and the time and frequency – helps your lawn reach the ultimate level of growth and long-term health.

In some areas of the country, watering restrictions may be imposed to limit water consumption. The time at which watering can be done could also be constrained. These need to be taken into consideration and worked around when calibrating an irrigation system for your lawn. 

Also, as different grass types need different amounts of water, it’s best to have this information beforehand. Some grass types can survive without as frequent watering, while others may require a more moisturized soil in order to grow.

Oftentimes, people will use a simple lawn sprinkler as a way of irrigating their lawns, but they may not deliver the proper amount of water to each area of the lawn. They may also consume more water than is necessary. However, they can still be adjusted to become an effective irrigation system for your lawn.

How to Measure and Time Water Sprinklers

Calibrating an irrigation system for your lawn is all about getting precise measurements of the amount of water you’re using and the timing of when it is being dispensed.

To start, get a straight-sided container, like an empty tuna can. Set it in the middle of the irrigation pattern. If you have multiple sprinkler heads going at once, place several containers throughout the watering area.

Let the sprinklers run for about 15 minutes. Then turn them off. 

Walk around to each of the cans with a ruler and measure the water level in them. Having straight-sided containers collect the water makes it easy to measure and much more accurate.

If you notice that one area is getting much less water than other areas, you may need to water that area longer or overlap it when you run sprinklers in different zones or moving the sprinklers entirely.

Evaluating and Adjusting Your Sprinklers

Once you know how much water your system puts out in 15 minutes, you can program your irrigation timing for the entire week. 

To do this, simply divide the amount of water your grass needs per week. Program your system to deliver the result in halves or thirds throughout the week.

One note: It is better to water deeply and infrequently than to water a little bit every day. This way, your soil is able to retain moisture longer and provide grass a longer-lasting healthier appearance.

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