Cycle-and-Soak is Just One Idea for Smart Irrigation Month

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July 7, 2022

July is Smart Irrigation Month! It’s the right alternative to focus on this nice cycle-and-soak watering methodology from WaterSense to be extra environment friendly together with your panorama water use!

Watering Tips from WaterSense®

It’s vital to know when, how typically and the way lengthy to water your garden. Each panorama is totally different. One watering methodology, Cycle-and-Soak, makes positive your soil absorbs essentially the most water throughout a water cycle with out runoff. Your utility or water supplier is an effective useful resource to find out your soil sort and supply how a lot water is often wanted in your space.

 WaterSense and     Cycle-and-Soak  

The WaterSense label helps clients determine water-efficient irrigation controllers that routinely regulate the irrigation schedule based mostly on soil moisture ranges or native climate and panorama circumstances. However, they don’t essentially monitor the speed at which water is soaking into the soil, so although they may irrigate much less ceaselessly than a clock-timer controller, pooling or runoff can nonetheless happen.

In some landscapes, extra changes to your irrigation schedule may end up in extra water financial savings and a more healthy panorama. If you’ve a WaterSense labeled controller, you need to use cycle-and-soak on sloped landscapes or clay soils to program your controller.

Cycle-and-Soak to Save Water Outdoors

Overwatering is extra frequent than many understand and may trigger weed progress, plant illness, and runoff that carries fertilizers and pesticides into native water our bodies. Installing water-saving out of doors merchandise and selecting native or drought-tolerant crops are nice practices to be water-efficient outside. Unfortunately, the bottom beneath your panorama could possibly be contributing to water waste. For instance, landscapes with clay soils or steep slopes could not take in water quick sufficient earlier than it runs off. Landscapes with these traits could profit from dividing irrigation runtimes into smaller intervals with brief breaks in between to permit water extra time to soak into the soil. This apply, generally known as “cycle-and-soak,” can preserve extra water on the panorama and scale back water waste attributable to runoff.

When Cycle-and-Soak Makes Sense

If your sprinklers are making use of water sooner than it may be absorbed, irrigation water could pool or run off the bottom earlier than it may be consumed by plant roots. This generally happens in clay soils, the place the infiltration fee, or the speed at which water soaks into the soil, is gradual. A soil with a excessive clay content material may be very dense and is extra prone to end in puddles and runoff. Conversely, sandy soil permits water to soak into the soil sooner, so much less water will pool on the floor. Sloping landscapes may profit from a cycle-and-soak schedule. While sprinkler irrigation shouldn’t be essentially really helpful on steep slopes, many householders nonetheless set up their irrigation programs on sloped floor. In these circumstances, water could run off the panorama earlier than it may be absorbed. In both occasion, breaking apart irrigation runtimes into shorter intervals and permitting water to soak in between watering lets crops obtain the quantity of water they want with out water going to waste.

Getting Started with Cycle-and-Soak

To implement a cycle-and-soak schedule, break up runtimes for every irrigation zone (or space of crops). Water in shorter intervals based mostly on the quantity of water the panorama can take in at one time. For every zone, file the full runtime that irrigation is scheduled to run (e.g., quarter-hour). Irrigate your first zone and file the period of time it takes for water to start pooling on the floor. This determines the utmost size of time to water in a single cycle. If it is the same as or larger than your each day scheduled runtime, cycle-and-soak shouldn’t be needed. Repeat this step for the rest of the zones.

Sample of Cycle-and-Soak Schedule

Water flowing off slope

What occurs when sprinklers apply water sooner than it may be absorbed!

With this info in hand, program your irrigation controller so that every zone irrigates in a number of brief intervals which are now not than the time recorded within the pooling train described earlier. Schedule as many intervals as wanted in order that the full runtime for the day is the same as the full each day runtime. Incorporate a 30-minute to 1-hour interval with out irrigating to permit water to soak into the bottom between every interval. An instance for 2 irrigation zones with a complete irrigation runtime of quarter-hour in Zone 1 and half-hour in Zone 2 is proven within the desk above.

Rotator Sprinkler

Instead of cycle-and-soak, contemplate, rotator sprinkler nozzles which have finger streams of water. They apply a smaller quantity of water compared to spray head nozzles, and are perfect for sloped areas because it permits extra time for water absorption.

If you need assistance figuring out the quantity of water your crops want every week and translating that quantity into runtimes, contact an irrigation skilled licensed by a WaterSense labeled program or your native utility, water supplier or extension workplace. [Arizona desert gardeners can find recommendations here on our Landscape Watering pages]

For extra particulars about cycle-and-soak, take a look at this supply from Castle Rock Colorado, and one other from Timberline Landscaping.

For extra details about WaterSense labeled controllers, or different water-smart landscaping and irrigation practices, go to www.epa.gov/watersense/outside.


Learn extra on our pages about environment friendly irrigation and methods to program your controller/timer.

Or take a look at these extra Water – Use It Wisely blogs on the subject:


From time to time, Water – Use It Wisely options visitor bloggers who write about subjects associated to water and water conservation. This month, we’re that includes WaterSense, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program designed to encourage water effectivity within the United States utilizing a particular label on shopper merchandise. Launched in June 2006, the WaterSense® program, a voluntary public-private partnership, WaterSense has helped American customers save 6.4 trillion gallons of water and greater than $135 billion in water and power payments. Since its inception, it has been immensely profitable at attaining its aim of decreasing water consumption. An estimated 1.1 trillion gallons have been saved in 2021 alone utilizing WaterSense-labeled merchandise.

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