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Water-Wise Lawn Care

Water-Efficient Sprinkler Systems


Half of a home's annual water usage typically goes to lawn watering. Use less water and maintain a healthy, attractive lawn with these tips.

Half of a home's annual water usage typically goes to lawn watering. Use less water and maintain a healthy, attractive lawn with the following tips.

Design and Installation

Choose the appropriate type of sprinkler:

  • Spray heads are stationary when running and are best for watering irregular shaped areas of 5 to 15 in diameter.
  • Rotor heads move to deliver water and are used for areas 15 to 35 feet in diameter.
  • Use low-angle nozzles to limit evaporation.
  • Drip emitters and micro-sprays are used to water trees, shrubs and flower beds.
  • Because each type of sprinkler delivers water at a different rate, do not mix head types within a zone.

Choose new technology sprinkler components and get a rebate:

  • WaterSense labeled controller: These controllers continuously monitor actual site data and automatically adjust the watering schedule each day.
  • Soil moisture sensor: A soil moisture sensor has probes in the soil that monitor moisture and automatically turn off the controller when a set soil moisture is detected.
  • Rain sensor: A rain sensor automatically turns off the sprinkler controller during or after rainfall.
  • High-efficiency nozzles: These nozzles turn a fixed spray head into a rotating head that applies water more slowly and uniformly.

Follow sprinkler system requirements.

Watering Tips

  • Water only when grass turns a dull, bluish-gray color and footprints remain. After a rain, skip watering until the grass dries.
  • Bluegrass lawns generally require 1" - 1.5" of water per week, depending on the weather. Most shrubs and trees require less water than bluegrass, so water them separately. See the recommended watering times on the chart below.
  • Water no more than two days a week (three days during extreme heat and dry periods) so the grass develops deeper roots and uses moisture deep in the ground.
  • Water between midnight and 6 a.m. when wind and evaporation are minimal.
  • Find more information in the Water-Wise Lawn Care booklet.
  • Learn more about tips for hand-watering lawns and landscaping.

Download the Water-Wise Lawn Care Guidebook

Sprinkler System Operation

  • Reduce the system operating pressure if you see a fine mist or fog.
  • Adjust sprinkler heads if they overspray onto sidewalk, patio, driveway or street.
  • Use low-angle nozzles to limit evaporation.
  • Repeat short watering cycles to allow water to soak in where water runs off quickly.
  • Try these Sprinkler System Tips and Tricks (PDF 74KB).

If you have an existing sprinkler system, sign up for a free audit. Or check out the Self Audit Kit to do your own audit.

Recommended Watering Times

Sprinkler System Maintenance

  • Routinely check for broken sprinkler heads, improper coverage, clogged nozzles and line leaks.
  • Read Zone Evaluation Problems (PDF 40KB) for solutions to common problems.
  • Reset the watering schedule at least once per month. Use the daily Lawn Watering Guide to learn how much to water. The guide is also published daily in the weather section of the Coloradoan newspaper.
  • Read about Your Sprinkler System (PDF 50KB).

Mowing Tips

  • Mow early - mowing when it's cool reduces stress on grass.
  • Mow sharp - dull mower blades tear the grass causing it to stress.
  • Mow higher - mow bluegrass 2 1/2 " - 3" tall to promote deeper rooting and to shade the plant's root zone. Never cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade.
  • Leave clippings - grass clipping add nutrients to the soil. A mulching mower chops grass into smaller pieces.

Lawn Care Ideas and Resources