By B.J. Jarvis
Florida is back on daylight saving time or did we just come off of it? I can never keep that straight. Either way, the time changed recently. After adjusting all clocks in your house, car, and office, don’t forget to do the same to irrigation controllers.
Residents are reminded to reset irrigation timers to avoid a time-of-day water use restriction violation. This is also an excellent time to run the system through each of the zones to assure that the system isn’t watering the sidewalk, driveway or side of the house. Local regulations allow irrigation system testing during the day to assure water used is going onto plants.
Ensure the battery backup on your controller is operating properly to maintain system programming during power interruptions. Most irrigation controllers have a battery back up. Swap out the battery given that Florida’s weather is notorious for power outages. A functioning battery will retain all the settings for zones and timing when the power goes out.
One of the most important aspects of owning an irrigation system is maintaining it for optimal performance and plant health. Resetting your irrigation controller provides a good opportunity to perform simple preventive maintenance. A few suggestions are:
–Straighten any leaning irrigation heads: Tilted emitters don’t provide even water to thirsty plants.
–Test rain sensors for proper operation and settings. Adjustments may be as simple as cleaning out dead leaves and bird droppings.
–Adjust sprinkler heads that have shifted and are watering the street, driveway or building.
–Assure sprinklers fully pop up above taller grass and plants. Over time, it is easy for plants to grow over irrigation heads preventing them from fully extending.
–Water sources may carry fine bits of sand or other particles that can clog an irrigation head. Refer to the owner’s manual for how to unscrew the heads and clean internal filters. –Look for parts broken by your mower or foot traffic. For peak performance, replace with identical parts. For more information on repairs, visit the University of Florida at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/AE/AE45100.pdf.
During the cooler, darker fall and winter months, irrigation run times should be adjusted to water about every 10-14 days because plants need less water. Don’t waste time, money or our precious water supply with unnecessary watering. Over watering plants will spread fungus that is difficult to control.
The University of Florida has an amazing irrigation scheduler. Visit http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/tools/urban_irrigation/, enter your zip code and irrigation system type and it will give you more information on irrigation scheduling than you can imagine.
-B.J. Jarvis is Horticulture Agent and Extension Director for Pasco Cooperative Extension Service, a free service of Pasco County and the University of Florida, IFAS. She can be reached at .
credit: SW FL Water Management District It is important to periodically check irrigation heads, timers and automatic rain shut-off devices.