Irrigation Questions

Irrigation Solutions Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my lawn need water? 

A. Water is probably the most important nutrient that your lawn requires, however, there are good and bad ways to water your lawn. One of the primary ways to promote the best lawn possible is through proper watering. Careful attention to watering gives the best lawn possible with the least amount of water. This saves water and money! It is also one of the best ways to strengthen the turf so it is less susceptible to drought, insects, and disease. By installing a in-ground lawn sprinkler, you do not need to worry about turning on and off your water in the morning.

Many people don't stop to consider that a lawn is made of nearly 1,000,000 turf plants in every 1,000 square feet. Like all plants, they require water from the soil to survive. About 10 percent of the water used by turf is to produce energy and growth. The remaining water is used for cooling, much the same way our body cools itself through perspiration. You've probably noticed that turf growing in shade requires less water than turf growing in full sun. Much of this difference is due to the fact that the shaded turf is cooler. It is important to maximize the turf's use of water from rain and irrigation.

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When should I water my lawn?

A. Never water your lawn or landscape in the heat of the day. This may actually cause more harm than good. The droplets of water that remain on the grass, plants and flowers actually wilt the plant once the hot sun warms the water. Most of the water that is being put down is also being evaporated due to the heat.

It is best to water in the early morning or early evening hours, but never late in the evening. This will give the ground a chance to soak the water in and reach the root system of the plants. Watering late in the evening could possibly cause more disease and weed problems as they tend to develop more at night than during the day.  

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How Much water does my lawn need?

A. Most lawns require a minimum of one inch of water per week. This can be accomplished by watering each section for one hour at a time. To ensure that your lawn is getting an inch per watering, place an empty tuna can in the lawn. Once the can is full you have reached one inch. It is best to water in this manner 2 -3 times a week if possible. Rain is the best supplier of water due to the natural occurrence of nitrogen, which is essential to the health of your lawn. It is hard to ensure that your lawn is getting enough water in some cases. Don’t be fooled by quick downpours. It may be a lot of water, but it is coming down too fast to soak in and most of rain is washed away. A hard, short storm may still need to be supplemented later in the week with a good watering.   Water is lost from your lawn through a process called evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration--usually referred to as "ET"-- is the combined effect of water used by the plant and that which is lost to evaporation. ET is expressed in inches (or mm) of water per week. Your watering schedule should be set up to replace the water lost to ET. Check with your local university extension for ET rates in your area. Many areas publish ET rates in the daily press.

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How deep does the water need to penetrate?

Apply enough water to wet the soil to a depth of approximately six to eight inches. A soil probe may be used to check moisture depth in soil. Maintaining a soil moisture depth of six to eight inches usually requires a rate of one to two inches of water per week. You can place opened cans in the sprinkler pattern to determine the amount of water being applied. · Don't give your lawn a light sprinkling. This promotes shallow roots, and it may not even reach the soil, depending on how much you water.

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What happens during a drought?

A. When there is a dry spell, grass begins to turn brown. Flowers need to be watered more frequently. Dirt patches dry up. Cracks form across the surface of the ground. After many weeks of such weather, plants die out. The roots of the plants, which previously anchored soil down, can no longer keep the soil from eroding. The dirt is then blown up by the wind, causing huge clouds known as dust storms. Because they can turn the sky dark, they are sometimes known as black blizzards. This is very uncommon for Long Island however droughts can destroy the landscaping on your property and can ruin your home value.

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What happens to grass during a drought?

A. As the soil begins to dry out, the lawn will show a lack of available moisture by wilted leaf blades. This condition is evidenced by a lengthwise folding or rolling of the blades, caused by a loss of water pressure within the plant Wilting is best seen on the older leaves of the grass plant because the youngest leaf is not fully expanded and will appear as if it is wilted. If your lawn can't get enough water it will first go into a dormant stage, often marked by a bluish color. If the drought continues until the soil water is fully used, death will result for most cool-season grasses. Bermudas and other warm-season grasses will probably recover, however, the lawn's quality will not.

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How Can You Tell When The Grass Needs Water?

A. When walked on, the footprints remain visible for several minutes. When the grass blades don't spring back, it means wilting is imminent so manually turn on the water long enough to supply a full inch. If too much water is allowed to leave the soil, your lawn will not be able to extract what's left for its own use, leading to stress. This makes the grass weak and susceptible to physical damage, insect damage and disease

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What are the elements of an automatic Irrigation Solutions system?

Quailty Digital Controller/Timer

The controller is the heart of the system. In a real sense, it is the money meter. The controller directly influences your water cost by controlling the watering schedule. Sophisticated features such as seasonal adjust (also called water budgeting), programmable rain delay and multiple programs (at least three are needed usually) are key tools for saving money. A expensive controller can pay for itself many times over in reduced water costs if it has the right feature set. As the most visible item in your system, the controller is a tip-off to home inspectors and appraisers. If they see a cheap controller they know to warn their client about your sprinkler system. If they see a commercial controller, they assume the system was installed by a knowledgeable person.

Installed below the ground, usually near the water source, valves regulate water flow to the sprinklers.  

Backflow Preventer
Backflow Preventers prevent water from your sprinkler system (and therefore any fertilizer or chemical contaminants) from re-entering the clean water supply.

Lawn Sprinklers
Installed in a special pattern for complete and even coverage, a properly designed automatic sprinkler system delivers precise coverage without gaps or runoff.

Rain Switch (Optional)
A Rain Switch signals your system to shut off automatically when it's raining. There's no sense watering when nature is doing its part. The Rain Switch is a highly reliable and inexpensive option that saves countless gallons of water.

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What is a rotor? What types are there?

A. Rotors are sprinklers that shoot a jet of water. The stream is moved back and forth across the area to be watered. Over a period of time, the water distribution is uniform. Rotors usually have a relatively low precipitation rate, so one station of rotors can cover a large area. There are single stream rotors, multi-stream rotors, full circle and part-circle arc rotors. The best rotors are gear driven rotors. Avoid impact rotors because the open cases cause big reliability problems.

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What is a spray sprinkler? What types are there?

A. The spray sprinkler sprays water over the whole area to be watered the entire time it is watering. In other words, the spray pattern does not move back and forth like a rotor. Spray sprinklers come with interchangeable nozzles to provide varying radius and arc choices. While most spray sprinklers do pretty much the same job, there is a big difference in the quality of the seals and ability to "pop down" reliably, so be sure to get commercial grade versions.
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Which type of sprinkler is best, rotors or spray?

A. Rotors work best for large areas (over 50 ft) without a lot of complicated lawn area shapes. The only time they work well in smaller yards is in unobstructed rectangular areas that happen to measure at an even multiple of the radius distance. For example, if the rotor throws water 30 ft, they can be used in a square area 30 ft on a side, or an area that is 30 ft by 60 ft. They are ideal for very large lawns of a half acre or more. Spray sprinklers do a better job of watering small yards or yards with lots of obstructions such as trees and bushes, walls, fences, etc.

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How do I minimize run-off when I water?

A. Use multiple start times if the ground will not absorb water at the rate it is applied. This is usually necessary for pop-ups, which water at a fairly high precipitation rate. Program the controller to use three or four start times, and water for one third or one fourth of the total watering time at each start time. Heavy clay soils may need even more start times, sandy soil will need fewer start times.

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Why do I Need an Irrigation Solutions System?

A. Properly measured and timed watering promotes optimum lawn and shrub growth. This generates a lush green landscape and increases the attractiveness of your property. Another benefit of an automatic sprinkler system is that it will increase the return on your investment. A properly designed and installed system will quickly add value to your home and preserve the investment to your landscaping. An automatic system delivers gentle, even watering for a more thorough soaking. There's less runoff and wasted water. The system can be programmed to water at the best time, early in the morning. If you want the very best in the industry, give us a call at (631) 205-5700.

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How does an Irrigation Solutions sprinkler system stops fungus?

A.Timing of watering is crucial. Water early in the morning and complete before 9 AM.

Night watering is not recommended, as it can cause fungus to develop. More lawns are harmed by too much water than not enough. Over watering causes nutrients to be flushed away, resulting in higher fertilizer requirements. Over watering also displaces oxygen from the soil, which leads to shallow roots and a lawn that is disease prone and weed infested.

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Will an Irrigation Solutions system add to the value of my property?

A. For an accurate appraisal you should contact an appraiser or a real estate agent. In many cases, a well designed and properly installed system made with professional grade parts from Irrigation Solutions will add more to the property value than the cost of the parts. A poorly designed or poorly installed system, or one made with parts from a discount hardware store can significantly detract from the value of your property according to appraisers we have spoken with.

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What kind of sprinkler should I use?

There is only one answer to this question. You should contact the irrigation specialists at Irrigation Solutions to consult you about the best way in which to water your lawn and plants. The staff is skilled at all aspects of sprinkler systems. We can be reached any time at (631) 205-5700.

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