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Spruce up your sprinkler system and save money

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Use these tips to reduce irrigation waste and avoid watering violations

A little maintenance goes a long way toward making your home irrigation (sprinkler) system work better and use water more efficiently, saving you money on your utility bills.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, homes with clock timer-controlled irrigation systems use about 50 percent more water outdoors than homes without irrigation systems. Systems can waste even more if programmed incorrectly, if a sprinkler head is pointed in the wrong direction, or if they have a leak.

Steps to spruce it up

You can spruce up your irrigation system in four simple steps: inspect, connect, direct, and select.

  • Inspect. Check your system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads
  • Connect. Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes or hoses. If water pools in your landscape or you have large wet areas, you could have a leak in your system. A leak about as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (or 1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • Direct. Make sure to direct your sprinklers so that they apply water only to the landscape and not the driveway, house, or sidewalk
  • Select. An improperly scheduled irrigation controller can waste water and money, and potentially cause you to violate water-use restrictions. Check your system's watering schedule and confirm your irrigation system operates at the allowable times. It is also important to use a rain shut-off device to bypass scheduled irrigation when it rains. During wet and cool months, you may be able to reduce scheduled irrigation frequency or duration, or occasionally manually run the system.