University of Florida

A Better Lawn on Less Water

An irrigation system is often the key to a healthy, attractive lawn. However, the improper operation of automatic irrigation systems can waste water and fertilizer and cause disease. Your automatic system, typically composed of a controller and an irrigation shut-off device (a rain sensor or a soil-moisture sensor), should not be operated on a fixed schedule. You should turn the irrigation controller to the “off” setting and water only as needed.

Watering as needed means waiting to water until 30 to 50 percent of your lawn shows at least one of the three wilt signs. These are folding leaf blades, blue-gray color, and footprints remaining visible in grass.

The key to watering as needed is your irrigation controller. Your controller is the “brain” of your irrigation system, but it only does what you tell it. Rather than running your system on a set schedule, regardless of rainfall, take control of your system and irrigate only as needed to conserve water and keep your lawn healthy.

How Your Controller Works

Your controller—the "brain" of your irrigation system—hangs on the garage or utility room wall and tells your system when to come on and how long to run. Newer controllers are usually easy to set. They typically come with simple instructions on an attached label. Look for details on your model and read all the instructions carefully.

After setting the current day and time, there are really only three things the controller needs to be told:

  • What day(s) to water
  • What time to begin
  • How long each irrigation zone should be watered

What is an Irrigation Zone?

An automatic, underground irrigation system typically waters the lawn in small, separate areas called "zones." Usually there are four or more zones per lawn.

The water to each irrigation zone goes through its own electrically operated valve. A buried signal wire runs from the irrigation controller to each valve.

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A beautiful green lawn

More Florida-Friendly Landscaping

 

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