Newbie questions:New sod+watering+Rain Bird?

pbx2_gwMay 7, 2013

* Our new build's sod was laid in Mid- March.
* Property is in Central VA Richmond.
* Relatively flat around the house & falling away at a 2-3 degrees for drainage.
* Have a Rain Bird Irrigation controller with Weather Sensor.
* Was watering once a day for up to 60 minutes until this past weekend since Mid March.
* Lawn looks rooted in now & Green & Thick in most places but some patchiness here & there.
* First cut was last weekend to take about an inch off the top. Expecting to cut again this weekend to get to the 2.5"-3" range for fescue.

These are general watering questions:

1) Spent a good couple of hours reading the Rain Bird manual this past weekend & cut back watering cycle to Max 30 mins in each zone. But still letting the Rain Bird control when & how many time to water. - Good idea?
I thought the rule of thumb in most places is to deeply water once a week for 30 mins & maybe another day in tough conditions. Trusting the Rain Bird would mean maybe more than once a week.

2) Any good guidance on how to program the Rain Bird for optimal usage?

3) Best time to water 4am-10am? I have it set within this window - Good?

Would appreciate any feedback.
New grass already making me nervous but throw in a complex controller like the Rain Bird & we are talking scared senseless.

This post was edited by pbx2 on Tue, May 7, 13 at 17:05

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Texas_Tifway(8 East Texas)

A1.) Watering for 30 mins doesn't really tell us much. Sprinklers can very by brand and by which type you are using ex.(rotary, rotators, and spray). What i would do is set a couple of tuna cans or use clear 4oz disposable cups with measurements in 1/4" increments by using a permanent marker. Water a particular zone and keep track of how long it takes to reach 1" and then set that zone run time to the time that you got. and so on and so forth. If the yard still looks dry after you have done this then up the time until it looks good to you.

A2.) I'm not familiar with the rain birds because I run a hunter. What I do since I have 8 zones for the yard and 1 for beds, I water every other day (mon ,wed ,fri) this allows me enough time to water the yard and the beds before the sun dries out the morning dew.

A3.) 4am-10am is an excellent time to water. I start mine around 3 or 4.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 1:17AM
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Thanks Texas_Tifway - some questions for you:

1) You measurement process is similar to what RB suggested to get the most accurate settings. But why collect till you get 1"? - I guess I am confused as to what the proper absorption rate should be: 1/4 in/hr or 1"/hr etc.?

2) I see where you are coming from with time & that many zones. We have 9 zones ourselves in similar fashion as yours. Since we set our Sprays/Rotors to activate independently & not all @ one time, we limit the watering time to max 30 mins per zone but yet allow the RB to handle when to water (which days).

3) I may just narrow my watering window to prior 8AM just since the summer Southeast sun here can dry things up fast.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 2:40PM
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Texas_Tifway(8 East Texas)

1.) 1" allows the turf to get adequate amount of water and the water reaches deep in the soil thus the roots go deeper in order to seek the water. This helps develop a good root system and helps your yard during times of drought. The slower water rate is going to be more beneficial but generally takes longer to water. For example I have a zone with rotators and it takes almost 3hrs to reach 1" and another zone of sprays along the sidewalk and it takes 30mins to get 1". If your not sure on how deep the water is penetrating then use a soil probe to see if it doesn't get 5-6" deep. Then adjust the zones according to how your yard responds, if it looks healthy and green then your golden but if it looks too dry then you can up the time or adjust how you water. you are just going to have to play with it for awhile until you get it to where you need it. hope this helps

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 1:29PM
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@ Thanks Texas_Tifway again!

It looks like trial & error from all I've read.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 1:22PM
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@ Texas_Tifway:

Well I used a variation of yours & the RB method from the RB Contractor's manual below.
Caught some sprinkler water in each zone for 15 minutes.
Took measurements of catch & multiply by 4 to calculate Application rate per hour.

So now I am more comfortable putting my own measurements in as a start & then let the RB do its thing (it had better, I paid big $ for it!! LOL!!).

Will monitor to see water usage & lawn health under this method for future tweaking.

Here is a link that might be useful: RB Contractor's manual Page 82

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 10:47AM
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Texas_Tifway(8 East Texas)

Good job, it seems you got a good grasp on it. Provide an update later so we can see your progress.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 1:05PM
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