Monday, July 22, 2013

This Homeowner Has Uneven Soil Moisture Issues

Q. One section of our lawn gets dry sooner than others. We run the sprinkler system the same length of time in each section. The sprinklers in the dry area also water another area that doesn't dry out, so we can't really run them longer without getting the other area too wet. Help!

A. You should figure out why the area in question dries so soon. The reason might include any of the following:
  • The grade of the lawn is higher in the dry area than in the others, so the water is draining away;
  • The soil type is sandier in the dry area than in the others, so the water perks down sooner;
  • The sprinkler heads in the dry area are not covering it properly;
  • The sprinkler heads in the dry area are not delivering enough water;
  • The sprinkler heads are spaced too far apart.
The simplest thing will be for you to place several empty cans of the same size around your lawn, especially within that irrigation zone. Run the irrigation for the normal period of time, then measure the water in the cans. This will indicate whether enough water is being distributed, and whether it is being distributed evenly. If the dry area is receiving less water, try replacing the existing nozzles with larger ones. If your water pressure is insufficient to support larger nozzles, replace the nozzles in adjacent normal areas with smaller ones, and run that zone a little longer.

Changing nozzles is not difficult, but it may require some inexpensive, specialized tools. If you can't do it yourself, or you simply don't want to be bothered, find a competent lawn irrigation specialist.

If the problem is due to grade or soil type, know that the grade can be changed or the soil can be amended. If the sprinkler heads are spaced too far apart, you may need to have additional heads installed. A well-respected landscape specialist should be able to help you.

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