Preventing Irrigation Run Off

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In Sonoma County, landscapers and Do It Yourselfers alike know it is illegal in California to allow run off from your sprinkler system. The current drought emergency has heighten sensitivity to this and can often be seen highlighted on the evening news. Run-off is particularly singled out because of its visibility in the neighborhood. From Healdsburg and Cloverdale to Santa Rosa and Petaluma, neighbors, water providers and others are looking for water waste from run-off.

Run-off occurs when too much water is applied or applied too quickly and is not absorbed into the soil. Run-off is typically seen along edges where lawns and sidewalk interface. This scenario is seen when sprinklers run too long (too much run time is programmed into the irrigation controller) or a sprinkler is out of adjustment or broken and or a sprinkler attached to a hose is forgotten.
In order to lessen the chances of run-off, a simple process to determine how long to leave the sprinklers on before the water begins to run-off is to activate the valve controlling the watering and use your watch to time how long it takes before water begins to cross the sidewalk. Once water is seen crossing the sidewalk check your watch and that is your run time. You will probably find that for relatively flat areas the run time will be about 4 – 5 minutes with a typical spray type of sprinkler. Experience says that in the middle of July, your lawn will need about 15 minutes worth of water 3-4 days per week. If you set your run time for 5 minutes, you will need the valve to come on three times. Therefore you want to program for 3 start times and space them at least 30 minutes apart. The term for this is called cycle and soak.

Try this out and feel free to contact us at Gardenworks Inc. with your results and or any questions you might have about this process. February and March are typically the months to begin testing you irrigation system here in Sonoma County for the coming growing season to be sure it is functioning properly and that all of your sprinklers are adjusted correctly. You probably won’t turn it on for another month or so, but there is peace of mind to know that when you do,it will be ready to go especially in avoiding run-off.