Shut it Off! Irrigation and Rainy Weather

By Wayne Hobbs, Environmental Horticulture Agent
Posted 8/1/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Daily rains are now the norm and could likely stay that way until fall. This can be a great thing for landscapes but for some homeowners, they forget one fact that should be …

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Shut it Off! Irrigation and Rainy Weather

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Daily rains are now the norm and could likely stay that way until fall. This can be a great thing for landscapes but for some homeowners, they forget one fact that should be done in weather patterns like this. Turn off your irrigation.

Irrigation Needs

Within the lawn and landscape, irrigation can be a great help when it is needed during dry times but right now is not that time. If the forecast is calling for rain for several days throughout the week, it is a good idea to go to your irrigation timer and shut things off until it is needed again.

For lawns, wait until the grass leaves fold or turn silvery which are the signs of a thirsty turfgrass. In beds, most of our landscape plants will not need much supplemental water during the year so watering should be done only as needed. The only exception to both of these rules is if you are trying to establish newly planted lawns or landscapes, where additional water may be needed.

Rain Shut-Off Devices

Did you know that you are legally required to have a functioning rain shut-off device if you have an in-ground irrigation system? Whether you knew that or not, it is probably time to check your current one or install one if it’s missing.

Rain shut-off devices work in a few ways, the most common being a sensor that operates using a cork disc. When the cork becomes wet, it expands and the sensor will cut off your irrigation system. These are low cost and low maintenance. However, this cork can break down over time, so it is a good idea to replace the cork in your sensor on an annual basis.

There are other options available including those that shut off irrigation when water fills a cup and goes over a weight limit and some that work off the electrical conductivity of rainwater. However, they are less common. Soil moisture sensors which measure the water available to plants and will shut off irrigation systems until levels drop to a place of need are also very effective.

When deciding on a shut-off device, think about its effectiveness and cost. Cork based devices are very affordable (starting at less than $20) while other options may be more expensive. No matter the device, install it based upon manufacturer’s recommendations and check it regularly.

If you want to take the next step in automating your irrigation, look into smart timers. Some allow you to change scheduling through Bluetooth and others even receive weather reports through the internet and water your lawn accordingly.

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If you have any horticultural, agricultural, 4-H, or family and consumer science questions, contact the University of Florida/IFAS Clay County Extension Office online at http://www.clay.ifas.ufl.edu or call by phone at (904) 284-6355.

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