How to Self-Audit Your Irrigation System

Conducting a self-irrigation audit (irrigation system maintenance) can save water and money. Inefficient and broken sprinkler heads waste our natural water resource and contribute to high water bills. Additionally, uneven coverage can lead to dead spots, and too much water can contribute to insect, disease, and fungal problems, leading to unhealthy turf grass.

Always Check For

Broken and mis-directed spray heads

Watering on the correct days and times

Test that your rain sensor is turning off your irrigation system

Look for mature trees and shrubs that no longer need supplemental irrigation, cap off the unnecessary heads

A single irrigation application for turf grass should provide no more than ½” to ¾” of water. To know if your system is applying the right amount, at least once every 3 months, conduct a simple catch-can test by following these 5 easy steps:

  1. Place 5 to 10 cans or containers of equal size, such as a tuna can, randomly throughout one zone. (Each zone will require a separate turn.)
  2. Next, run the irrigation system for 10 minutes.
  3. After the system has finished, measure the depth of water in each can/container with a ruler.
  4. Then, find the average of all containers by adding up all the depth measurements and dividing by the number of containers used.
  5. Finally, take the average and multiply by 6 to get the rate in inches per hour. (The final step is needed because the system only ran for 10 minutes.)
Sample Irrigation Times
Zone Inches in 10 Minutes x6 = Inches in 1 Hour Ideal Run Time
Zone 1 0.33" 2" 15 min.
Zone 2 0.7" 4" 7.5 min.
Zone 3 0.16" 1" 30 min.

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