‘Cycle and soak’ method prevents runoff

Landscape conservation practices can reduce water use, save money

Staff report
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Since landscape irrigation increases water use by 35 to 75 percent during the summer irrigation season, Texas A&M AgriLife recommends landscape water conservation practices be adapted to reduce water use, save money, and still maintain a beautiful landscape. Water conservation is the easiest and least expensive method to make water resources sustainable for future use.

Some irrigation systems apply water faster than the ground can absorb the required amount of water for deep root growth especially on heavy clay soil and slopes.  If runoff occurs before enough water is applied, run these stations several short times instead of one long time.

1. Determine how long to run each zone (see ‘Catch Can Test’)

2. Water these areas in 2 or 3 short cycles or 4 cycles if on a slope instead of 1 long cycle.

3. Wait 20 to 30 minutes between cycles.

Most irrigation controllers have a way to set multiple start times for cycle and soak or you can use manual controls.  If you have trouble programming your controller, visit the irrigation controller company’s web site or contact their customer service for instructions for cycle and soak.  Some newer controllers have a soak and cycle setting, so this may be a good time to upgrade your irrigation controller.

Actual water savings from these landscape water conserving practices depends on a number of factors, including size of irrigated landscape, landscape design, plant selection/plant water requirements, efficiency of your irrigation system and, changing run time once landscape practice is adopted.  These landscape water saving estimates are provided solely as an educational guideline to help the homeowner understand and appreciate the potential saving water.

For further information, contact Mark Arnold, County Extension Agent-Agriculture/Natural Resources, 701 South I-35 E Service Road #3, Waxahachie, or call 972-825-5175 or email: wmarnold@ag.tamu.edu.