Conservation Controller Tips
Step 1: Create a Watering Schedule - Determine which heads are controlled by each zone (station). Write down the zone number, type of heads and plant material. For example: Zone 1 lawn and sprayheads, Zone 2 shrubs and drip, Zone 3 lawn and rotors. Then use one of the Sprinkler Scheduler Calculators to determine the run-times.
Before starting Step 2, please read the following which covers how to use the basic irrigation efficiency features on a controller:
Programs: The multiple program feature (program A, B, C, etc.) allows the user to put zones with similar watering needs on a single program, such as Program A for lawns (shorter root zones need water more frequently), Program B for trees and shrubs (typically needs deeper watering less often) or Program C for drip installations (only needs one deep watering every few weeks).
Programs describe start-times and days of the week only.
For example, all the zones that water lawn areas can be grouped together on program A so that all the lawn areas can have two start times, one at 6 AM and one at 6:30 AM, and be scheduled to water Monday, Thursday and Saturday.The number of minutes scheduled for each zone is programmed individually, see the last bullet of Step 2, which allows for a more customized watering schedule even though the number of start times and days per week are the same for a specific plant material.Program B could then be customized for trees and shrubs to water on Tuesdays and Fridays with three start times and Program C could be reserved for areas watered with drip that only need one long watering on Sundays.
Cycling or multiple start times: This is a very important feature that will help not only help to eliminate runoff but also get the irrigation to the plant root zone. Say the sprinkler calculators show a turf with spray heads watering schedule of 10 minutes (2 cycles of 5) per day of watering. Multiple start times or the Cycle and Soak feature on controller allows the user to break up the 10 minute watering into two 5 minute “cycles” by inputting two start times at 6 AM and 6:30 AM.“Wetting and Waiting” breaks the soil tension and allows successive watering to easily penetrate the soil where one long one would create run-off.Caution:Multiple start times are entered when developing the Programs.Be sure you divide the total number of minutes you want the zone to run per day (two 5 minute runs, instead of one 10 minutes run) by the number of start times entered on the Program or you’ll water more than you wanted.
Water Budget, Seasonal Adjust or Percent Adjust: This is a very convenient feature that allows you to change your watering times by a percentage across all zones.Set your controller with peak watering schedules and use the percent adjust feature to decrease and increase watering run times as the weather changes.Plants need different amounts of water during the irrigation season.The longer the days the more water a plant will need.As the days grow shorter, a plant’s need for water decreases.Visit http://iwms.org/ to sign up for the Seattle area Watering Index email service to receive the real time percentage.
Step 2:Input Run-times & Schedules into the Controller - Set each Program with start times and days per week.Move the Program switch to A and turn the dial to Start Times.Add the times you want the controller to run (for example, start time 1 at 5 AM and start time 2 at 6 AM).While still on Program A, move the dial to Days of the Week and choose the days you want the system to come on.Do the same for the other programs if you have plant material that needs a different watering strategy.
Switch back to Program A, move the dial to the first zone that has turf and add the number of minutes calculated with the sprinkler calculators.Be careful to divide the number of minutes by the number of start times (5 minutes instead of 10 for two start times) so you don’t accidently water more than needed.Once all the zones for Program A are scheduled, move the Program key to B and C if needed and do the same.Check to make sure you didn’t schedule the same zone on two or more programs or that zone will water for both programs.
Set the percent adjust with either the historical monthly amount or real-time amount found at http://www.iwms.org/seattle-area-info. Some controllers allow you to set a percentage for each Program or by month.Check by moving the Program switch to A, B, C and D to see if the adjusted percentage can be changed for each program.If not, you will only need to set the percentage once to affect all the programs.
Set controller back to Run.