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Water Wise Landscaping

For tips on water-wise irrigation, landscape design/maintenance and plant, soil water relationship:  Download Brochure

How to Use Your Sprinkler Timer

Learn the controller

For many of us the most puzzling piece of technology in our homes is our sprinkler controller. It doesn’t have to be this way. By taking a few simple steps you can master your sprinkler controller and begin to water efficiently.

  • Read the manual first. If you don’t have one, check the internet. Most manuals are available on the manufacturer’s websites.
  • Follow the programming instructions step by step and in order. Skipping steps and working out of order is a common cause of mistakes.
  • Get to know your controller. What functions does it have? At a minimum a controller should have at least two programs and three start times per program. More is better. More start times and more programs will allow for better flexibility and control.  You will be able to water more efficiently with less waste.

Using a scheduling worksheet

Now that you are familiar with your controller and its capabilities, it's time make the controller work for you. The best way to do this is to use a scheduling worksheet.

  • Click here to download a blank version.
  • Click here for an example.

By using the manual start or run function of your controller, identify which areas or zones of your landscape are controlled by which station on the controller. Turn each station on one at a time and note on the worksheet what zone is being watered. For example; station #1 is the front lawn, station #2 is the shrub bed beside the garage, etc.

Important note: Don’t try to program the controller and fill out the worksheet at the same time. Complete the worksheet before returning to the controller. The worksheet is your scheduling plan. The controller is the tool you will use to accomplish the plan.

  • Once you have determined what zones are controlled by which stations you can determine how you want to water each zone. Different types of plants have different water requirements. Group zones with similar water needs on the same program. For example; put all turf zones on program A, all shrub zones on program B, and all vegetable gardens on program C etc.

Note: How well you can divide your system will be dependant on how many programs your controller has

  • Determine the run time for each station and record it on the worksheet.
  • Determine the start times and days to water for each program and record them on the worksheet.
  • Now you can program the controller.

Each controller will differ slightly as to how it is programmed.  Read the manual, become familiar with your controller, and use the scheduling worksheet.  This will enable you to use your controller to its full potential.

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