Turn back time, cut back watering

Daylight saving time ended Sunday, Nov. 5. Remember to adjust the clock on your irrigation system controller too!

For many of us, fall is the best time of the year as it brings cooler, more satisfying temperatures and a much, much awaited change in the air.

As you go through the normal routine of turning back clocks, don’t forget to change the time on the irrigation controller too, especially with Stage 2 watering rules continuing. This is also a good opportunity to replace your controller’s 9-volt battery — which will retain the correct time, date and program even after power outages.

With recent rains, shorter days, and fewer hours of sunshine, plants no longer need as much water as they did in our record-breaking summer. If they haven’t already, many will soon begin to lose their leaves and prepare for winter dormancy. This results in two important biological changes. First, they don’t take in as much water. Second, moisture evaporates from the soil much less than it did just one month ago.

Although plant roots will continue to grow at a snail’s pace throughout winter, they don’t require a lot of hydration. In short, an irrigation schedule from August is totally inappropriate for November through February.

Celebrate fall’s arrival with a lower water bill by reducing individual zone run times on the controller by two thirds each. You can also use the seasonal adjust setting to decrease all the run times at once — down to 40 percent in November, 20 percent or less in December.

For the biggest water savings, switch from weekly watering to monthly watering in winter by following the holiday watering method! Here’s how it works:

  • Turn off the controller after Halloween.
  • Run irrigation system manually, if needed, once a month (if it hasn’t rained at least once in the past month).
  • Use the major holidays from November to March as a reminder. Check to see if any watering is needed around Thanksgiving, Christmas, Martin Luther King Day, Valentine’s Day and Spring Break.
  • After spring break, switch back from monthly to weekly irrigation, normally around the time the grass starts growing again and you find yourself mowing it weekly.

This is also a good time to make sure your controller isn’t running unnecessary programs or start times. Remember, most controllers only require a single start time. Extra or “stacked” times and programs can easily quadruple your water consumption, even in winter.

Need help with irrigation controller settings? We offer free residential irrigation consultations. Call 210-704-SAVE (7283) to schedule an appointment.

Adolph Garcia
Adolph Garcia
Adolph ‘Marty’ Garcia is SAWS’ numero uno, top dog, the go-to guy for all things irrigation and has the experience (that would be 35 years) and professional memberships to back up such a stellar reputation. Not only is he a SAWS senior conservation consultant, but he also holds a Texas irrigators license, in addition to a plethora of other credentials. (Did we mention he’s a licensed plumber, too?) Teaching people about water issues is his passion, second only to America’s pastime – baseball – and the hot dogs, pretzels and beer that go with it.
Ask the Garden Geeks

Have questions, insights, or exciting news to share? Our resident expert Garden Geeks are here to help!