Irrigation Tips to Water Wisely

Spring and summer months are known for many things – sunshine and warmer weather, pool parties and barbecues,  flowering plants and trees in full bloom, and for many, increased water usage. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that household water usage increases anywhere from 30 – 60 percent during spring and summer months, largely due to the use of sprinkler systems and swimming pools, as well as general outdoor water use like washing the cars and cleaning decks and patios. Because of this, we want to help you be water smart this spring by sharing some simple ways you can conserve water, starting with a short video that offers best practices for watering.

Watch the video for tips that will help keep your spring and summer water bill in check.

Spruce Up Your Sprinkler

Do you use an in-ground irrigation system to water plants in your landscape? Then it’s a good idea to periodically check it to make sure all the components are working properly, including valves, filters, backflow preventers, pressure regulators, pipes, sprinklers, microirrigation lines, and the controller. If your water bill is higher this watering season than it was the same time last year, it could be the sign of a leak. Components can be disturbed or damaged due to winter’s cold, ice, or snow, so the start of the watering season is the perfect time to spruce up your sprinkler system. A sprinkler spruce-up involves four simple steps: inspect, connect, direct, and select.

Hint: Hover over the image for a more detailed guide.

Spruce Up Your Sprinkler with 4 Easy Steps

Inspect. Breaks might be hard to spot if your system runs overnight or early in the morning. One way to find broken heads and leaks is to turn on each irrigation zone separately, then look for heads that do not pop up fully, are tilted, or are missing entirely. Make sure sprinklers aren’t blocked by rocks, debris, or foliage. When the sprinkler is running, check for misting or overspray, which could be a sign that the water pressure is too high. A pressure regulator can reduce system pressure.

Connect. Leaks can occur at the joints between sprinklers and the piping. Leaking joints can also be a sign of too much water pressure. If water pools in your landscape or you have large wet areas, you could have a leak in your system. Between irrigation cycles, look for areas of the landscape with water pooling on the surface, would could indicate an underground leak.

Direct. Do your sprinklers spray your driveway, house, or sidewalk? You should be able to adjust each sprinkler nozzle so the spray is as wide or as narrow as necessary. For best results, the water from one sprinkler head should just reach the sprinkler head next to it. Keep sprinkler heads vertical and avoid tilting for best lawn coverage.

Select. Irrigation controllers  can be clock-timed or smart controllers that schedule irrigation based on the weather or moisture in the soil. WaterSense labelled controllers can save an average home nearly 7,600 gallons of water annually. If your not ready to replace your clock-timed controller, update it with the seasons to avoid overwatering during rainy months or cooler temperatures.

Remember to add “sprinkler spruce-up” to your spring cleaning list this year. And to learn more about maintaining a water-smart yard, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense website.

More Outdoor Water Savings Tips

Water Wisely

  • Water your lawn or garden during the cool morning hours, as opposed to midday, to reduce evaporation.
  • Look for sprinklers that produce droplets, not mist, or use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation for trees and shrubs.
  • Try not to overwater your landscaping. Learn plants’ water needs, and water different types appropriately.

Grow Green Grass

  • Avoid overfertilizing. You will increase the lawn’s need for water.
  • Raise your lawn mower blade to at least 3 inches. Taller grass promotes deeper roots, shades the root system, and holds soil moisture better than a closely cropped lawn.

Garden With Care

  • Plant climate-appropriate species. Try plants that are native to where you live, which don’t require as much water, and group plants together by water requirements.
  • Use mulch around trees and plants to help reduce evaporation and control water-stealing weeds.

Give Your Hose a Break

  • Sweep driveways, patios, sidewalks and steps rather than hosing them off.
  • Remember to use WaterSense labeled nozzles for occasional watering, washing the car, bathing the dog and other outdoor activities.

Look for Labels

  • Check your outdoor fixtures, timers and controllers to see if they are WaterSense partners. If you aren’t sure, you can search the WaterSense partner site here.
  • If your fixtures and devices are not WaterSense partners, consider replacing them with ones that are to ensure efficient water use.

For more tips, visit the WaterSense website.

Outdoor Water Use

Facts About Water Use

Backflow Preventers

IMPORTANT NOTE: All homeowners with piped irrigation systems must have an approved backflow prevention method or device. These devices are required by the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation and help ensure the integrity of our public water supply. For more information, click here.

Placing mulch around shrubs and garden plants can help reduce
evaporation, inhibit weed growth, moderate soil temperature, and
prevent erosion. Organic mulches can include wood chips, bark, pine
needles, and grass clippings. Inorganic mulches can include stones,
pebbles, or brick chips. If using organic mulch, leave a few inches of
space around tree trunks and bush roots to prevent rot. Mulch allows
soil to retain water, which means you can water less frequently.

Spring into action with #MulchMadness.