This test is for overhead systems only— not drip irrigation, soaker hoses, etc-for those systems you will need to water and then check and see if you have actually gotten the soil wet down to 6 inches in the ground.
For Overhead (traditional systems)
You will need—10 small cans-or like- with an inch marked inside with a marker – be sure it is easy to see [cat food cans-tuna cans–anything ]
A bundle of landscape flags [ optional if you want to write on them and mark dry or wet spots for the sprinkler guy)]—they are wires with a little colored flag on the top—hardware stores have them
Set out all cans in your first station— Spread them out in a scattered pattern. If you don’t know how to run your controller –take the time to teach yourself or seek help-the directions are inside the door-or on line on the company’s website.
Turn your station to run as it is set now—because we need to know what you have been doing—This is important if you have had any known problems that I need to address with you.
Check each can when the station turns off—set a timer that you will hear if you need to -turn the system off while you check your cans.
If the cans are not full to the top of the black lines in the cans—that indicates that you need to water longer.
If Some cans are a lot fuller then others that indicates that the system is not hitting all areas evenly—stick a flag in the areas that are too dry. Make a note as to how different the amount is in that area.
(example-I/4 inch here—while others got a full inch in the same amount of time.)
If the time period fell short in most cans then set the system to water another 5 minutes and see if that reaches our goal of one inch [to the top of the black line] continue to do this until you get enough in most of the cans.
If some of the cans are just barely getting water even though you have filled most of them –that’s fine for now –we will fix this so it doesn’t happen –you just need to be able to tell your installer what your problems are so he can come in and get right to work making the sprinkler design a good one that covers all areas evenly. (I use the flags to write dry or too wet on to help me remember) You can save him a lot of time and that saves you money—so this is well worth doing—This knowledge will keep you from having failures with your plants because we will be watering them well— but not over watering them. Keep remembering that you will only have to do this test one time until we get it just right (unless something gets blocked or broken later) –so put some time into it. Repeat this process with each station—Call to set up a time when your sprinkler installer can come out—let him know that we have done a test—If he is one of the men I use–tell him that you are one of my clients and he will know how we want him to fix things. If you need my list of professionals for names and numbers-just let me know.
You will determine how often you need to water everything after you have determined how long you need to water to get that inch in the can. You will do that by guessing that it will be every 5-7 days in clay soils and every 3-5 days in sandy soils.
Important note—if you have been watering at frequent intervals-you can not jump down to every 5-7 days at once—Start by watering the longer period of time that you need to and add another day between the watering times every 2 weeks until you have reached your goal.
If you are wanting to see if you can stretch that watering period even farther—then on the evening before it is set to come on –you will need to dig and see if the soil is wet or dry down about 4-6 inches—If it is dry then you need to water the next day — If it is wet –it is not time to water yet-check the soil again the next day and if it is dry— it is time to water the next morning after that. Now you know how often to water. FYI—just because a plant looks wilted in the sun only means it is hot –not always thirsty—don’t make the decision to water more until you have checked the soil.
One other thing that could happen is that your water could start running off before the cans get even half full—this could be because the soil is so compacted and hard there and is way too dry for some reason—this will eventually be stopped with better soil achieved by my program and proper watering– but at first –if it is a problem you will need to set the system to come on for a shorter period of time (10 min) and then come right back on again for however long you need to water to get an inch. Don’t count the 10 minute cycle.
If the runoff is caused by sprinkler heads that need to be changed then make a note for your sprinkler installer.
Once you have completed you test and taken care of the needed adjustments—you still need to monitor your landscape to make sure that nothing has changed. Things can happen—heads can get broken-valves can get stuck—plants can grow and block water off of other plants.
Be sure that you are in control of your system—When my customers ask me what setting to set their systems on –I tell them OFF is the best setting. I do recommend an automatic system if it is in the budget –and it is great to have it to set when you are away on a trip. But know this—even if you have a rain check system—all that means is– a tiny sponge swells up when it gets wet and allows the system to come back on when it dries up—it does not reset the system to come on at the proper interval after a good rain. So my advice is– Never Set It & Forget It.
What you need to do to insure that your newly planted plants get established
Watering a newly planted plant correctly is very important. At first your newly planted plants need extra attention , extra water and extra monitoring from you. If you have taken the time to plant right– in 28 days your new plants can fall right into line with your existing landscape.
Here is your 28 day watering schedule for all newly planted plants
[Water long enough to get the soil wet to 6” down]
Water every other day for 1 week——- 7 days
Water every 3 days for 9 days———- 9 days
Water every 4 days for 12 days——— 12 days
Plant material is established———– 28 days
After the 28 day schedule is over- Our end goal is –well watered ( water long enough to get the soil wet down to 6 inches—or long enough to get 1 inch of water in a can ) every 5 days at the most in clay soils—after the program gets built and your root systems grow this may be stretched to longer intervals .