Watering a yard uses a lot of water. According to the University of Missouri Extension, almost 80 percent of household water is used outside the home. Setting up an automated watering system regulates this flow of water and reduces waste by only using water when needed and only enough to wet the turf.
Automatic systems with sprinkler heads in the ground are run by a series of geared or streamed rotors. The sprinkler heads pops out of the ground when water is supplied to the head. A timer regulates when the water turns on, how much water is supplied and for how long.
According to the University of Kentucky, lawns generally need about 1 inch of water per week from May to September. An automatic timer may be set so that 1 inch of water is delivered. Regular rainfall will change how much water is needed in the lawn. A simple rain gauge will indicate how much water is needed by the watering system.
Setting the System
Automatic watering systems differ among brands, so read the instruction manual thoroughly when you install the system. Set your timer to water the lawn between 6 and 8 a.m., says the University of Missouri Extension. Water pressure in most households is at its highest at this time, wind disruption is low, and you prevent evaporation.
Observing the Lawn
Check the turf often for indications that you are over-watering or under-watering. Not all lawns or areas of the lawn, require the same amount of irrigation. Adjust individual sprinkler heads to prevent over or under-watering areas that do not need as much water. Look for wilting, dryness, footprints remaining in the lawn long after someone has stepped on the turf and powdery soil. Adjust the sprinkler system accordingly.
Discovering the Watering Rate
Apply 2/3 inch of water the first time you irrigate, placing metal pie pans around the yard. Check the uniformity of the water spread in the pans. After a second watering, probe the first 4 inches of soil to check if it is wet. Set the system to irrigate south-facing slopes more frequently to beat evaporation and run off.