How to cycle and soak to save water and get best watering results

As temperatures rise, you may be tempted to run your sprinkler longer. But resist that temptation, and instead practice cycle-and-soak watering. It’s an efficient way to keep your landscape healthy and be sure that none of your watering goes to waste.

Here’s how to cycle and soak:
Break up your watering into shorter intervals. For example, if you usually water an area of lawn for about 15 minutes, then don’t apply all the water within one 15-minute timeframe. Watering all at once creates run-off and wasted water your plants won’t get to use.

Instead, break the watering time into three intervals so that the water runs for about 5 minutes, and then take a break. This break gives the water time to soak into the soil. It is easy to schedule these cycle-and-soak intervals with the timer on your sprinkler system. By the time each zone has received water, the first zone has had time to absorb the first interval’s water and is ready for the next interval.

Need help programming the cycle-and soak method? Check the manual, look for a video online that walks you through the steps, or consult a landscape professional to help you troubleshoot your turf issues and properly schedule your sprinkler.

When scheduling your sprinklers, make sure you’re following any watering rules for your area. They can help you establish good habits and not over-water your lawn. For example, most watering rules prohibit watering midday, which is an excellent guideline since you can lose a lot of irrigation water to evaporation during those hours.

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