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What You Need To Know
About Your Sprinklers

A few years ago the Miami Herald reported
that 70-80% of water use in South Florida
was water from home sprinkler systems

Only a fraction of homes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida have good working sprinkler systems. That includes the mansions and other expensive homes. Most homes have sprinklers with clogged heads, leaky or broken pipes, too much or too little water flows, and most especially, sprinkler patterns that miss lots of plants

Virtually every irrigation system installed was designed solely for grass.  Grass needs 100% coverage and is an ultra heavy water feeder. New systems are designed to "rain" in a low pattern that overlaps itself

  • There is no assumption in the design for trees or shrubs in the landscape
  • There is no assumption in the design for plants that want/need more or less water than grass

For a healthy landscape, these designs are problems. Worse, there is no design for ground covers, shrubs or trees that will be planted and then interfere with the sprinkler system's "all grass" plan. As plants are added, thus your sprinkler system becomes progressively less effective

Sprinkler control systems usually assume watering 15-20 minutes per day, 3-4 days per week

  • There is no mechanism to shut off the system when natural rains provide free water
  • There is no mechanism to provide more water to plants that need more water
  • There is no way to limit water to plants that want/need less water than sprinklers provide

All of these circumstances are problems that contribute to less than ideal landscapes



Learn how to control your sprinklers. Your control box, usually outside your home, is normally in the AUTOmatic position. Learn how to shut off your system when ongoing rains provide water


Change your settings (or call a professional sprinkler man) to provide water 20 minutes per day but only 2X per week. More water than this is not needed


Shut off sprinkler heads that provide water to mature plantings. Hardly any tree or palm in the ground over three years needs any sprinkler water

More mature shrubs in shady areas or East side exposures need not any sprinkler water. Tough ground covers like liriope need no added water, Ficus hedges need no water. In fact, with 50-60 inches of water per year, mature South Florida landscapes most often can be left in the SPRINKLERS OFF position


In times of ongoing lack of rain, you may have to hand water some plants affected by long periods (over two weeks) with zero water. Learn to observe your plants often and provide hand watering when needed. You save money, save water and have much healthier plants


Adjust your sprinklers (or call a professional sprinkler man) with higher risers in beds where plantings block water disbursement. Adjust the water flow from each head (more or less water) to accommodate the plants each head waters. For example, use maximum water in hot areas (usually South or West) and cut down water flow in shady areas (usually East and North)


Never assume your sprinklers are still working. You should periodically view your sprinklers in action to make sure each head is properly operational