Efficiency with automatic irrigation systems

Automated irrigation controllers can make irrigation efficiency automatic. But someone has to set them up to be efficient. Here are some tips.
  • Adjust irrigation times monthly.
    The amount of water the lawn needs in April is much less than the amount of water it needs in July. Adjust run times monthly. This will keep the irrigation system from applying too much water. Visit our watering schedule page for more information on how long to water.
  • Water in short, repeated bursts.
    Many irrigation systems can apply water faster than soils in Cheyenne can absorb. Watering in short bursts, allowing water to soak in, then watering again will reduce the amount of water that runs off into the gutter.
    • Spray Heads
      Water in cycles of 8 to 10 minutes, 4 to 5 minutes on hills. Add more cycles instead of adding more time during July and August.
      Spray heads pop up and spray a steady, non-rotating spray. They can apply 1.5 inches of water per hour. Cheyenne's soils typically absorb about 0.2 inches per hour.
    • Rotor Heads
      Water in cycles of 20 minutes or less. Add a second cycle during July and August rather than adding more time.
      Rotor heads pop up and rotate from side to side. They can apply 0.5 to 0.75 inches per hour.
  • Adjust the sprinkler head's altitude.
    Select sprinkler heads that spray low to the ground where wind speeds are slower. This reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation and wind drift. 
  • Check sprinkler heads monthly.
    During the day, when you can see where your sprinklers spray water, run the sprinkler system on each zone for about two minutes. Check the following:
    • Look for and repair broken sprinkler heads or misdirected sprinkler heads.
    • Adjust heads to spray so they spray from one head to the next. Sprinkler heads rarely spray the same amount of water at all distances. Many place more water closer to the sprinkler head than farther away. By adjusting the heads to spray from one head to the next, the sprays overlap and distribute water evenly.
  • Install automated controllers such as wind and rain sensors.
    These sensors prevent the irrigation system from running during windy or rainy weather.
  • Install a pressure reducer for the irrigation system.
    Water pressures in Cheyenne's water mains average 120 pounds per square inch. Most sprinkler systems operate the most efficiently at 30 to 50 pounds per square inch. If pressures are too high, the sprinkler heads mist the water rather than form droplets. Misted water is more easily blown away by the wind.
  • Use drip irrigation along sidewalks or streets.
    Drip irrigation systems are especially effective at watering flowers, vegetables, bushes and trees.
  • Create a low-water use buffer between grass and sidewalks or streets.
    Plant low-water use plants along sidewalks and streets. These plants will use the water from sprinkler system overspray and wind drift instead of the water flowing down the gutter.
  Did You Know?
Wyoming is the fifth driest state in the nation.

Cheyenne only receives about 15 inches of precipitation each year. That is roughly half of what is needed to maintain a green yard. 

Your irrigation methods supply the rest of the water.

Many irrigation systems are less than 50 percent efficient in distributing water. That means they have to apply more water to overcome the inefficiencies.

Instead of needing to apply 15 inches of additional water, these systems must apply 30 inches of water. That is enough water to cover your lawn 2.5 feet deep.