Consult your manualThe manual explains the options for managing the system.What if you can’t find your instruction manual?”Any manufacturer or their local distributor can supply a set ofinstructions,” Seymour said. “Just call and request a copy.”Be sure to have your system’s model number and name handy.Another easy way to get a manual is to visit the manufacturer’sWeb site. Most firms offer their newer instruction manuals on theWeb.If you don’t have a controller chart, you can make one, Seymoursaid. Just sketch the landscape and the irrigated area.Set the controller to run each station and draw an outline onyour landscape sketch of the areas each station irrigates. Thenlabel each station with the appropriate controller number on thedrawing.”It’s also good to note what types of plants are in each zone,”she said, “so you can adjust each station’s run time for theplants’ needs.” Rain sensors worth extra costIf your system doesn’t have a rain sensor, add one.”A rain sensor detects rainfall and prevents the system fromirrigating when it’s raining,” Seymour said. “This is add-onequipment, but they’re inexpensive and usually pay for themselvesin water savings in one or two years.”You can buy a rain sensor and install it yourself or have anirrigation contractor put it in. Either way, put it where it’snot covered by building eaves and doesn’t collect irrigationwater. It may be best to attach it to the roof edge where thereare no interfering trees.Rain sensors are mandatory on any automated system installed in16 counties around Atlanta after Jan. 1, 2005. “Even if it’s notmandatory in your area,” Seymour said, “it’s the easiest way toreduce water waste from automated irrigation systems.”Whether you use an automated or manual system or just water witha garden hose, follow your county’s or city’s watering schedule.”Be aware of the current outdoor watering restrictions in yourcommunity and use them as a guide,” Seymour said. “But don’t justwater because it’s your day to water. Water based on your plants’needs.”Turf grass needs water just as it begins to wilt. Signs include achange to a dull, grayish or bluish green and leaves that beginto fold.Annual flowers have shallow root zones, so they usually need tobe watered more often than perennial flowers, which have deeperroots.Trees and shrubs have even deeper, more extensive roots. They canget to water far underground. Most can survive a long timewithout rainfall. Too much, too oftenSeymour said homeowners with irrigation systems often water toomuch and hurt their plants and grasses.”Plants that are stressed by excess water are more susceptible todisease and pest infestations,” she said. “When used wisely, ahome irrigation system can be a useful landscape tool.”If your system is automated, it should have either a timer or acontroller.”To efficiently irrigate, you need to know how to adjust, resetand program your system’s controller,” Seymour said. “Thecontroller is a combination of a clock and calendar andinstructions that you provide. Together, these components turnvalves on and off in your irrigation system.”To set the system, check the instruction manual for yourcontroller and a controller chart, a drawing of your landscapeshowing areas covered by each irrigation zone. Each zone iscontrolled by the corresponding station number. By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaRecent Georgia rains have cut down on one landscaping chore:irrigating the lawn. But when it’s time to turn on your systemagain, experts urge you to use it wisely.”Irrigation supplements rainfall, and most years in Georgia, evenin summer, it isn’t needed every day,” said Rose Mary Seymour, anExtension Service water specialist with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
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