How long do I run my irrigation system to apply the correct amount of water?

To determine how long to run your sprinkler system to apply the correct amount of water, set out small, straight-sided cans (such as coffee, tuna fish, or cat food cans) randomly within an irrigation zone and see how long it takes to fill them to the desired depth of ½ – ¾ inch. Repeat this process for each irrigation zone in your lawn. Be sure to check your irrigation system for uniform coverage; all the cans should have approximately the same amount of water.

Your irrigation system consists of multiple “zones,” each of which covers a specific area of your yard. Be sure your irrigation system is zoned separately for the lawn and ornamental plants so that each zone will apply different amounts of water at different frequencies. A zone that covers your lawn should not also cover landscape plants since irrigation requirements differ between species.

Additionally, rain sensors, mandated by state law on all new irrigation systems since 1991, should always be functional and in place.  These sensors will automatically skip an irrigation event if it has rained.