Rain Bird Sprinkler HeadIt actually seems a bit unfair. Just when our yards and gardens reach full bloom, summer’s hot, dry weather comes along and makes it challenging to keep everything lush and beautiful. For areas of the country experiencing drought conditions and watering restrictions, it’s an even bigger challenge. Outdoor water use is at its peak, making this the ideal time to chat about the importance of smart watering.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense® program estimates that outdoor watering accounts for nearly one-third of all residential water use — nearly 9 billion gallons per day. Fortunately, by combining a few common sense watering practices with today’s more efficient sprinkler systems, it’s easier than ever to keep your landscape looking great while using far less water. Here are some handy tips from Rain Bird, one of the most recognizable brands in the irrigation industry, to help you use less water this summer without sacrificing the health and beauty of your outdoor environment.

1. Install a smart, weather-based sprinkler timer.  These timers, or controllers, automatically adjust your sprinkler system’s watering schedule based on the season and current weather conditions. This allows the timer to optimally water your plants year-round without requiring you to make any programming changes. One example is Rain Bird’s SST Smart Series timer, which uses the combination of a built-in nationwide historical weather database and a smart weather sensor you install in your yard to help you use up to 20% less water. Controllers that carry the EPA’s WaterSense label have been tested and certified as highly efficient products that intelligently meet landscape needs without overwatering.

2. Retrofit your sprinklers with high-efficiency spray nozzles. Inefficient sprinkler nozzles can lead to poor water coverage, which often causes homeowners to run their systems longer to compensate. High-efficiency nozzles like Rain Bird’s Dual Spray provide excellent “close-in” watering to eliminate dry spots around spray heads. RN Rotary Nozzles put down slow, rotating streams of water, which is ideal for landscapes with slopes or clay soil, giving it the chance to soak in instead of running off into the gutter. For landscapes with irregular shapes or tight corners, a high-efficiency variable arc nozzle like Rain Bird’s HE-VAN provides extremely uniform water coverage with adjustable spray patterns from 0 to 360 degrees.

3. Watch the clock. Water between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Mid-day watering tends to be less efficient because of water loss due to evaporation and windy conditions. Watering in the evening isn’t a good idea either because leaves can remain wet overnight — an open invitation for fungus to grow. By watering in the morning, leaves have a chance to dry out during the day.

4. Don’t water when it’s raining. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Still, we’ve all seen sprinkler systems running during rainstorms. Rain sensors like Rain Bird’s RSD Series are a quick, inexpensive and easy-to-install upgrade that can prevent the water loss and embarrassment that can come from allowing your system to operate in rainy conditions.

5. Water only things that grow. Make sure your sprinkler heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways. A properly adjusted sprinkler head should spray large droplets of water instead of a fine mist to help minimize evaporation and wind drift.

6. Be a drip! By that, we mean consider installing drip irrigation to water your garden, plants and shrubs — or even your patio pots. Drip irrigation delivers water directly to plant roots where it’s most needed, decreasing the amount of water lost to evaporation and wind. Furthermore, because water is going directly to plant roots, you can cut down on fungus and weed growth. Rain Bird offers a number of “Drip Starter Kits” that help do-it-yourselfers quickly install efficient new drip systems or retrofit an existing spray zone to drip.

By getting “water-smart” and integrating today’s efficient irrigation technology, you can reduce your outdoor water use this summer while still enjoying your own personal outdoor oasis. Visit rainbird.com to learn more about the latest water-efficient products, discover additional water-saving tips and locate water-efficient product rebates available in your area.