1. Water at the optimum time.
Water when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool to reduce evaporation. You can lose as much as 30 percent of water to evaporation by watering mid-day.
2. Water only when needed.
Water deeply enough to saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungal invasions.
3. Adapt your schedule to the weather and the season.
Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller. Adjust the schedule regularly for current weather conditions.
4. Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system.
Water requirements vary depending on the type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, plant and soil type. The same watering schedule should almost never apply to all zones in the system.
5. Inspect your system monthly.
Check for leaks, broken or clogged heads or filters, and other maintenance needs, or engage an irrigation professional for regular checkups.
6. Adjust sprinkler heads.
Correct obstructions that prevent sprinklers from distributing water evenly and make sure heads are properly set to avoid watering pavement or buildings, creating unnecessary runoff.
7. Get a professional system audit.
Hire a professional to conduct an irrigation audit to make sure your system irrigates uniformly. Brown spots can be a sign that portions of the yard are being under watered or overwatered, a situation that can be corrected using information from an audit.
8. Consider “smart” technology.
Climate- or soil moisture sensor-based controllers automatically adjust the irrigation schedule to meet the specific needs of your landscape.
9. Install a rain shutoff switch.
Rain shutoff devices are inexpensive and effective at preventing watering in rainy weather. Many states and cities require them. A rain shutoff device can be retrofitted to almost any system.
10. Consider low-volume drip or micro irrigation.
For plant beds, gardens, trees or shrubs. Low-volume irrigation slowly releases small amounts of water, minimizing evaporation, runoff and overspray and putting water exactly where the plant can use it.