The Benefits of Following Our
Irrigation Schedule


Our irrigation schedules allow homeowners to take an active role towards solving their irrigation dilemma. It offers them the opportunity to learn more about their watering habits by practicing management techniques in their own yards. With the schedule in their hands, our clients can eliminate the guess work when it comes to setting their automatic irrigation clocks. Our schedule prescribes the correct amount of water the lawn and landscape needs to stay healthy without producing unnecessary runoff. We've even made the schedules easier to follow by telling you which days to run your system. Clients have the freedom to change their irrigation schedule with the changing seasons. They feel good about saving water while at the same time protecting their investment, the landscape.

Unfortunately, we've found that too many people water their yard every day or every other day with little to no thought as to how to irrigate properly. In dealing with the public the main complaint I've heard is that there is little to no resource for outdoor watermanagement. These schedules were designed to offer a resource for precisely this type of information.

Before clients can understand how an irrigation schedule works, they must first know what type of sprinkler system they have. Then they match their irrigation type to the schedule and set their automatic clock accordingly. If clients have trouble identifying their sprinkler types, then a professional gardener can easily assist them. Our schedules are designed with these types of sprinklers in mind; 1) pop-ups, 2) rainbirds (impacts), 3) single and multiple rotaries.

Sometimes people look for water management information without knowing what kind of irrigation system they have. This often results in the person receiving the wrong advice and watering either too much or not enough. I've seen home owners water exactly the same way for May as they would for August without compensating for the temperature changes. Armed with these bad watering habits most people water more rather than less. Our schedules are designed to work with the changing temperatures in Contra Costa County. During the rainy season we need to water less and during the dry season we need to water more. In January, and February we turn off our automatic irrigation clocks and operate them manually if needed at all. In March, April, and May water usage increases and in July, August, September, October water usage peaks. It winds down to a trickle in November and December.

Guidelines During Heat Waves

There are certain days, during heat waves for instance, when extra watering time is required. At that time, these instructions are to be followed: "When temperatures exceed 95 degrees, water your yard for one cycle to replace the water it lost through transpiration". This guideline helps to protect your yard during heat waves while it cools your nerves-You don't need to hit the panic button and overwater. Adding minutes to your watering time wastes less water than adding days.

When are the best times to water?

Watering during the wee hours of the morning is more beneficial for these reasons:
  1. You receive better pressure because the system is running at an optimum.
  2. It slows down the reproduction of fungi and mold.
  3. It stops grass and leaf burn caused by water magnification.
  4. It keeps humidity down around the yard.
  5. It allows the high traffic areas to dry out.

Watering while the sun is out causes a percentage of water to transpire; you lose water by evaporation. It can also cause leaf burn.

We recommend splitting your water running time into thirds. For example, the instructions may read, "Run pop-ups for 24 minutes (3, 8 minute intervals) three times weekly, Sun., Tues., and Fri.". Water the first interval at 1:00 am, the second interval at 3:00 am, and the third interval at 5:00 am. Watering for a brief period three times during the night simulates a long, slow rain. This allows the soil to absorb the moisture and eliminates run-off. Which is more efficient, a long slow rain that allows the rain to penetrate the roots or a downpour that doesn't penetrate the roots?

For the purpose of this report, we refer to "the landscape" as all the plants, shrubs, ground cover and trees in the yard, excluding the lawn. Many landscapes suffer from over watering. Our program has shown that clients who followed our schedule found that landscapes do very well with one weekly watering during the growing season and twice weekly waterings during the summer. Landscapes can survive without water a lot longer than turf can. A great deal of water can be saved in the landscape areas and thereby allotted over to the turf if necessary.

Drip Schedules

Our schedules include drip irrigation. During the drought, drip became a very popular choice of irrigation. Home owners can cut their water use significantly by using a drip system. Although it is a great water saver, you must still know how to irrigate properly in order for the system to work.

Dry spots

Our philosophy is to fix an irrigation problem immediately rather than to abandon it. Dry spots are most often caused by sprinkler heads that are either broken, clogged, or out of adjustment. Solving the problem by watering longer is not practical. Instead, look for an insect or foreign object in the nozzle. Sometimes the grass around the nozzle is too high and obstructs the pop-up from rising above it. Sometimes adding a sprinkler head to the dry area solves the problem.




Irrigation schedules featured in this project run from 1986 through 1994. Below is an explanation for some of the changes we have made to our schedules over the years. As the drought continued our schedules became more sophisticated. The drought required that we give our clients more precise information so they could keep their lawns and landscapes alive.

April 1986

The first month our Water Management Schedules were printed in our newsletter.


The beginning of the drought.

February 1987

Our first basic rules called "Things To Do In Case..." appeared in our newsletter. For example, that month we didn't get any rain for 13 days. So we decided to irrigate the whole yard rather than wait for the rain to do some of the work for us.

July 1987

We decided that it would be more practical to divide our watering times in half. At this time we were watering once at night and again in the morning. Example: For a 30 minute watering time, you would water for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.

November 1987

We started leaving our watering instructions on the back of our yellow service tags.

March 1988

We spent more time educating our clients on the proper function of water in the yard. For example, how in some cases a lack of rain is a benefit to the root system because it allows the roots to grow deeper in search of water.

April 1988

We introduced a drought schedule for each irigation station. We separated the lawn irrigation schedule from the landscape irrigation schedule. We introduced the idea of drip irrigation to our clients. We divided our watering times into thirds. At this time we began the idea of watering once at 1:00 am, again at 2:00 am, and then at 3:00 am.

November 1988

We told our clients to turn off their systems for the winter after their yards had received 1-2 inches of rain. Once the system was off we told them to go ahead and manually water potted plants and plants under eaves.

April 1989

We asked our clients to throw out their old watering habits and start using our Water Management Program.

May 1989

We split our irrigation schedules into Schedule A and Schedule B. Schedule A was for clients who felt like they could get by with less water and Schedule B was for clients who felt that their yards needed more water. We also asked our clients to call us if they noticed any problems.

July 1989

We gave our clients a new drought schedule in addition to our regular schedule to make up for the unusually dry weather. The new schedule was for unusually hot days and the regular schedule was for normal days.

May 1990

We included another double schedule. This schedule allowed for less water at the beginning of the month and more water once the weather got warmer. We gave more in-depth instructions to our clients about what kinds of things to do in the yard to help it survive the drought.

June 1990

We recommended "ringing the irrigation system." Keeping the grass blades cut low around the nozzle doesn't obstruct the water flow.

July 1990

We again gave our clients double irrigation schedules.

February, March, and April 1991

We spent more time educating our clients on irrigation schedules and how they work.

March 1991

We split our watering times even further apart to allow for longer dryout periods between irrigations.

May 1991

We gave our clients double irrigation schedules.

August 1991

We explained to our clients that watering every day is not the best way to keep a lawn or landscape healthy. We explained that this may cause more problems later.

December 1991

We talked about the proper way to water manually and why sometimes we need to turn our automatic systems off.

April 1992

Our newsletter informed our clients in advance when we would be feeding the lawns or landscapes so that they could water more efficiently, thus increasing their drought awareness.

May 1992

We offered two irrigation schedules.

July 1992

Again we offered two schedules. We also included basic irrigation rules.

August 1992

We again offered two schedules to make up for the unbearably hot weather.

December 1992

The drought officially ended and so did our survey.

January 1993

Even though the drought was over, our Water Management Program continued.

March 1993

Since we had no rain we decided to put in a March back up schedule.

July 1993

We again offered two schedules and instructions on proper use of equipment.

December 1993

We put together a December "back up" schedule to make up for too little rain.

March 1994

This "back up" schedule was to be used only if there was too little rain.

April 1994

Our newsletter informed our clients in advance when we would be feeding the lawns or landscapes so that they could water more efficiently, thus increasing their drought awareness. We offered two schedules to compensate for the hot weather.

May 1994

We gave our clients two irrigation schedules, again, to compensate for the lack of rain.

July 1994

We gave our clients double irrigation schedules once again.


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