Deluxe Sprinkler Tune-Up / System Documentation
Over the course of the last 4 years we have integrated an application into our database that allows us to quickly generate 3 reports that help manage your sprinkler system more efficiently. By collecting simple data about your system, we can quickly document your sprinkler system zones, create an extra efficient custom watering schedule and calculate estimated monthly water consumption. On average the service takes 10 minutes per zone to complete, so a 6 zone system takes about 1 man hour.
The 1st and simplest of the 3 reports is the zone site guide which lists your systems zones by number, description, sprinkler head type, microclimate etc. As part of the service we print the site sheet on extra thick paper then laminate it. The laminated site sheet is intended to hang inside your sprinkler controller door and is helps us to speed up maintenance work.
The 2nd report is calculated run times for each zone based on inches of water required for July, the driest month of the year. Run times for the other months of the year are calculated as a percentage of July and are taken from the IWMS.org web site. All lawn and shrub zones use 3 start times instead of 1 so that water has time to soak in between cycles. As an example, instead of running a zone once for 15 minutes, it is run 3 times for 5 minutes with an interval between run times. The interval allows the water to penetrate deeper with less runoff, this is referred to as cycling and soaking in our business. Cycle and soaking can make a huge difference for water retention on any zone but especially for lawns on steep slopes that use spray heads. In addition to better water retention, cycling reduces landscape runoff which often includes fertilizers and other chemicals that can eventually end up in local streams and lakes. This very effective feature is seldom used, mostly because it is hard to calculate all the start times. The 2nd report automatically creates programming instructions with multiple start times that are designed to quickly and easily program your sprinkler controller with. Once we have documented your system your programming instructions will print out every time we service it. Note: Not all controllers are capable of 3 start times which is required to take advantage of cycling and soaking. We can program the system using 1 start time as an option but you should be aware that you may be required to upgrade your controller to take full advantage of cycling and soaking. In most cases we can tell you if your system will work before we start as we document what kind of controller all of our customers have.
The 3rd report breaks down consumption by the zone and then also calculates consumption for the entire system for each month of the growing season. For larger systems, this data can be used to prevent consumption from entering 3rd tier water rates in July and August. Most water districts have a multiple tier billing system with the 3rd tier often costing double what the 2nd tier costs. The consumption report provides property owners a tool to identify high consumption zones within their system. This data can then be used to keep your consumption out of 3rd tier rates by either, making zones more efficient, reducing run times, or shutting down un-needed zones. Staying out of 3rd tier water rates could literally cut your water bills in half.
How It Works: The formula works by using the manufacturers listed precipitation rates for 3 head types; sprays, rotors and the newer multi stream rotors. Using the manufacturers listed precipitation rates and historical ET data from the IWMS.org web site we calculated total run time minutes for the month of July for the 3 different head types for both lawns and shrubs. Run time minutes for other months are based off a percentage of July’s total as July is the peak watering month. Basically the formula we created delivers the proper amount of water to a zone that was constructed to manufacturer’s specifications at 50 PSI. Because there are so many different factors involved in creating the perfect water application rates, such as soils – sun exposure – plant type – slope – sprinkler type – water pressure – head placement, it’s unlikely that our calculated run times will be perfect. They will however serve as an excellent starting point. We recommend that zone conditions be monitored after the first programming and adjustments made if needed to fine tune for wet or dry areas. It should be noted that extra high water pressure could cause extra water to be applied. Assuming your water pressure is less than 75 PSI and it was professionally installed it should work very well using our calculated run times. In contrast poorly installed systems will require additional minutes to keep plants adequately watered. If your water pressure is above 75 PSI we highly recommend the installation of a pressure reducing valve (PRV) if you plan on using the calculated run times. A pressure reducing valve will also use water more efficiently, as less water is lost through evaporation since high water pressure causes sprinkler heads to mist and blow off target.