For the amount of work you put into your lawn to make sure it stays healthy and green, you deserve to save yourself some work in the long run by setting up an irrigation control system. If used properly, control systems with automatic timers have the ability to make your watering schedule more efficient and will save you the stress of manual activation. The installation itself should only be an afternoon’s worth of work, and once it’s taken care of, all that’s left to do is develop proper strategies for your timer’s schedule to maximize your water usage and ensure that the controller is saving you not only time, but money as well.
- Making the Purchase: Before purchasing the irrigation controller, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research to determine what specific style is going to work best for you. The main options are centered around indoor vs. outdoor units, and whether the unit can plug into an outlet or will need to be hardwired. Also present are different styles of displays and user features. Better or worse, in this case, depends completely on the layout of your sprinkler system and on personal preference, so it’s best to consult with an expert at your local hardware store to determine what options best fit your home setup.
- Hanging the Hardware: After the irrigation control console has been purchased, it’s time to get it out of the box and fastened to the wall. Find an appropriate location based on power supply and the unit’s indoor/outdoor requirements, and then snap the timer face from the unit to detach the ribbon before beginning to drill. Most consoles come with pre-made holes for mounting, but you can also drill your own holes through the back of the cabinet to make it extra secure. Do not attach the power source before the controller has been mounted as the open face may leave wires exposed to the touch. Also, be sure to install the control at a height that will be comfortable not just for you, but for all those who will be operating the system.
- Bring on the Wires: Now that the unit is mounted, the job gets a little tricky. This step is going to require you to attach the control unit to the sprinkler system itself, and so attention to detail is crucial in order to get everything right. Make sure to purchase one more irrigation wire than there are zones, as the extra will act as the common wire. Next, be sure that the power to the unit is completely off for the installation. Following the instructions outlined in the controller’s manual, continue by running wires from the solenoids on each sprinkler valve back to the designated port on the controller, using a separate color for each zone and white for the common wire. For underground valves, the wire will run alongside the PVC pipe, and for this reason it’s vital to make sure the pieces are water-tight. After putting all parts together, write down a diagram of which zones on the controller control which parts of the yard and be sure to save it somewhere to use as a reference guide when creating the schedule.
- Irrigation Strategies: Now the hard work is done. You’ve finished the install. But there’s still a bit more to go before you sit back and let the irrigation take care of itself. Setting up a watering schedule strategy is key for getting the most out of your timer and to not risk over or under watering. You should take into consideration that summer months are hotter, and for now the lawn will need more water than in fall or spring. You should also consider the type of soil in the yard and the rate of absorption. If it is clay-based soil, set the time for shorter intervals with breaks in between to allow the water to absorb. Other than that, stay true to normal irrigation rules such as only watering between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m., as well as turning off the system during rainstorms, and you should have a well planned schedule that allows you to ease your mind and your lawn or garden’s watering to take care of itself.
TIP: One spray of WD-40® Multi-Use Product goes a long way in loosening the joint of a stuck sprinkler head.