This is a common question that I receive from landscapers and homeowners. Of course the answer is: as much as plants need and this is not always easy to determine. In descending order the plants that need the most to the least are: lawn, flowers- annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees. I have found that for most Long Island properties, especially the North Shore, every other day watering works well. As a matter of fact, in many communities in Nassau County this is the ordinance as mandated by the county.
There are several variables that I have to consider when programming a sprinkler system, here are a few:
- Plant type
- Soil type
- Sun vs. shade
- Flat land vs. hill side
- Time of day
My job as an irrigation contractor is to work with these variables and produce the optimal watering program. Some basic programming that I have found to work for many of my clients are:
- Every other day watering. In Nassau County that would be even numbered homes water on even days of the calendar and odd numbered homes water on odd days of the calendar. I like this scheduling for Suffolk County as well. Certain water companies voluntary request that their clients follow this simple watering schedule such as Suffolk County Water Authority and Greenlawn Water District.
- Sprinkler Systems are comprised of all or some of the following types of delivery systems and each have its own rate of application. Rotary sprinkler heads, spray heads, and drip irrigation.
- Rotary sprinkler heads, which is mostly used for lawns, should run for 30 minutes -60 minutes every other day. Running a rotary sprinkler zone for 60 minutes is equivalent to approximately ¼” of rain fall.
- Spray sprinklers, which is used for lawn and flower beds, should run anywhere from 5 -15 minutes and will deliver water at the rate of 1.5” of water per 60 minutes. Much greater rate than a rotary sprinkler. For flower or shrub beds, you may only need to operate 1x or 2x per week.
- Drip Irrigation is very different delivery system as the water drips out at the constant rate of 0.6 gallons per hour which is equivalent to a rain fall of approximately ¾” per hour. I like drip irrigation for plantings especially large evergreen borders and foundation planting around a home. A lot of the homes that are on or near the water that has constant wind benefit greatly from the use of drip. Most drip systems run 2x/week for 30 minutes each time.
These different types of sprinkler heads and drip all require separate programming. Proper programming is one of the keys to a healthy landscape. Stay tune for the next part of watering: “cycle & soak”. Cycle & soak whenever you have very heavy clay soils that do not allow all the water required to actually infiltrate the soil and make it available to the roots.
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Rain Rich Sprinklers has been serving Long Island for 30 years and prides itself on providing outstanding service and the best value.
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