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To avoid overwatering on an allowed day, "you need to adjust your controller for multiple start times on ... one day." Restuccia said. "Water; let it soak in for an hour. Then, water again. ...
How much water do plants really need? That's probably the most common question asked during this current drought, say the experts, but also the most complicated.
"It all depends on plant type, if its location is in the sun or shade, what type of soil you have, if the property is sloped," Saare-Edmonds said.
That's why it's important to group plants with similar water needs.
Trees growing in a lawn are another issue," she said. "They're getting some water from the lawn (sprinklers), but they really need their own separate irrigation, less often but deeper."
Most water rules exempt drip irrigation. For example, Sacramento limits over-head irrigation (sprinklers) and hand-watering to two days a week. Residents with odd-numbered addresses may water Tuesdays and Saturdays; evens on Wednesdays and Sundays. Drip systems may be run any day.
"Drip systems need to be scheduled very differently," Saare-Edmonds said. "Sprinkler (run) times are measured in gallons per minute (GPM); drip systems run gallons per hour (GPH)."
Converting a sprinkler-based system to drip is easier than you may think. Even turf can be put on drip with grid systems installed under the sod.
Most important, drip systems put water where it's needed: at the roots.
"Instead of losing 35 to 40 percent (of water) to drift or evaporation, a drip system is 90 to 95 percent efficient," Troche said.
"Irrigation technology is getting better and better," Saare-Edmonds said. "There are a lot more options out there." Among those options are "smart" controllers. These take a lot of the guesswork out of deciding when to water.
"They're a little bit of money - usually around $500 - but they adjust water use on a daily basis, taking solar radiation, temperature, humidity and other factors into account," Restuccia said.
Other tools can be added to existing systems. Soil monitors (around $200) measure ground moisture and relay that information to the controller. Weather stations or rain sensors ($200 and up) shut off irrigation when it's not needed.
"I don't see many customers with rain sensors, but they're a good tool," Restuccia said.
These sensors help the controller do its job.
"It all comes back to the controller," Saare-Edmonds said. "It's the brain of your system. Use it."
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/04/21/6340892/get-control-of-your-sprinklers.html#storylink=cpy