drip irrigation) or microsprays. With
microirrigation, water can be directed
to the root zone, where plants need
it most. Learn more at www.epa.aov/
Select a WaterSense Labeled
Irrigation Controller
Irrigation controllers, normally located
inside the garage or on an outside wall,
automatically activate your system.
They can be clock-timed controllers,
or smart controllers that schedule
irrigation based on the weather or
moisture in the soil. WaterSense
labeled weather-based irrigation
controllers do the thinking for you
in terms of when and how much to
water, based on local weather and
landscape conditions. When installed
and programmed properly, WaterSense
labeled irrigation controllers can save
an average home nearly 7,600 gallons
of water annually over a clock-timed
controller. If you're not ready to replace
your controller, there are WaterSense
labeled models that upgrade your
existing controller to make it weather-
based. Learn more at www.epa.aov/
If you're not ready to replace your
clock-timed irrigation controller,
update it with the seasons to avoid
overwatering during rainy months or
cooler temperatures. If you notice that
runoff occurs when you water, consider
breaking up the irrigation into smaller
intervals with
breaks in
between to
allow the water
to seep into the
soil. For tips on
adjusting your
irrigation controller, visit www.epa.aov/
For more information about sprucing
up your sprinkler and other smart
watering ideas, visit www.epa.aov/
Cover controller image courtsey of Rachio; back page controller and interior spread valve box photo courtsey of
Hunter Industries Incorporated; and interior spread sprinkler photos courtsey of Rain Bird Incorporated.
It's Time
to Start a


o you use an in-ground irrigation
system to water plants in your
landscape? Then it's a good idea
to periodically check it to make sure all
the components are working properly
including valves, filters, backflow
preventers, pressure regulators, pipes,
sprinklers, microirrigation lines, and the
If your water bill is higher this watering
season than it was the same time
last year, it could be the sign of a
leak. Components can be disturbed
or damaged due to winter's cold, ice,
or snow, so the start of the watering
season is the perfect time to spruce
up your sprinkler system. A sprinkler
spruce-up involves four simple steps:
inspect, connect, direct, and select.
Inspect for Breaks and Leaks
broken heads and leaks is to turn on
each irrigation zone separately, then
look for heads that do not pop up fully
are tilted, or are missing entirely. Make
sure sprinklers aren't blocked by rocks,
debris, or foliage. When the sprinkler is
running, check for misting or overspray,
which could be a sign that the water
pressure is too high. A pressure
regulator can reduce system pressure,
and/or you can install WaterSense
labeled spray sprinkler bodies, which
have pressure regulation built in.
Connect Sprinklers, Pipes,
and Valves
Leaks can also occur at the joints
between sprinklers and the piping.
Your irrigation professional can identify
whether the joint is broken or if the
sprinkler needs to be
tightened. Leaking
joints can also be
a sign of too much
water pressure or
particles in the water.
Check that your
pressure regulator
is installed properly.
Particles in the water
can be a sign that your filter is old or
clogged and may need to be replaced.
Missing or broken sprinkler heads can
waste water and damage your plants
by spraying water
where it isn't
needed. Breaks
might be hard
to spot if your
system runs
overnight or early
in the morning.
One way to find
Because many
irrigation pipes
are underground,
it may be difficult
to identify loose
pipe connections.
Between irrigation cycles, look for
areas of the landscape with water
pooling on the surface, which could
indicate an underground leak. Check
the valve boxes that house controls
and other components underground
to make sure that valves are securely
connected and can close completely,
so they do not slowly seep water even
when they are turned off. Installing a
flow meter can also help you know
when your system has a leak.
Direct Sprinklers for Best
Water Coverage
Go With a Pro
Once you're done with your
initial spruce-up review, flag
anything that needs fixing; if
you can't do it yourself, find an
irrigation professional certified
by a WaterSense
labeled program
to inspect
and maintain
your system at
irrigation-pro. These professionals
have demonstrated knowledge
of water-saving technologies
and techniques, and they can
also program your irrigation
controller based on your location
and landscape to ensure the right
amount of water is applied.
necessary. For best results, the water
from one sprinkler head should just
reach the sprinkler head next to it,
known as head-to-head coverage.
Keep sprinkler heads vertical and avoid
tilting for best lawn coverage.
For watering flower gardens,
shrubs, and trees, consider using
microirrigation (also referred to as
Do your sprinklers spray your
driveway, house, or sidewalk? Direct

them towards the
landscape to avoid
sending runoff—
and possible
pollution—down the
storm drain. You
(or a professional)
should be able
to adjust each sprinkler nozzle so
the spray is as wide or as narrow as