This info is for City of Austin Water Customers. If you are on a different water system, please contact you local water purveyor for more information on how and when they calculate your water ware average.
This winter is predicted to still be fairly WARM AND WINDY AND DRY as we are in a LA NINA weather pattern
We normally recommend COMPLETE SHUTDOWN of ALL AUTOMATIC IRRIGATION in the WASTEWATER AVERAGING PERIOD. Below are some strategies to deal with landscape preservation during this 3 month period.
COMPLETE SHUTDOWN OF AUTOMATIC IRRIGATION/ BACKFLOW/ "WINTERIZE" PROCEDURE.
1. SHUT OFF BACKFLOW, Turn controller to OFF, RUN 2 MIN TEST CYCLE to DEPRESSURIZE and drain much of the mainline.
2. Hand water any critical plants and trees as needed.
This is the most conservative method and will result in the lowest waste water averaging bill. Also prevents any "runaway" programming in case there is a power outage and the controller gets scrambled or decides to water every day. Very important for anyone going out of town for the holidays.
Even if you don't want to be a WATER MISER this winter, you should be throttling back your watering to 50% or LESS of your summer watering.
There are multiple approaches to programming. Each has their benefits.
SIMPLE, SAFE and PREDICTABLE. LEAST WATER SAVINGS. 50% WATER BUDGET.
1. Most controllers have a WATER BUDGET which can we set to a percentage, change the percentage from 100% to a new setting of 50% and you are done. Keep the same 1 day a week that the city of austin's watering restrictions allow and you will have a predictable watering
A LITTLE MORE COMPLICATED " HANDS ON " EVERY OTHER WEEK WATERING.
1. Leave your WATER BUDGET on 100%
2. Change the WATER DAYS from CALENDAR to CYCLICAL.Changing the FREQUENCY of watering. With cooler weather and less hours of sunlight in the WINTER there is less Evaporation and Transpiration by plants. So the theoretical "soil moisture gas tank" does not get drawn down as quickly, so it does not need to be filled as frequently. You can go to an EVERY OTHER WEEK watering schedule ( sometimes called CYCLICAL or a 14 day watering cycle )
This programming results in the same amount of water savings or approximately 50% of summer usage.This is a little harder to program and I would probably just recommend the next method. since it is simpler and has less programming.
HYBRID ON week / OFF week.
1. Leave all settings the same as summer. TURN the Controller dial to OFF.
2. Turn the controller to ON/ AUTO the night before you scheduled watering day. Turn if OFF the night after it completes its cycle.
There is some "memory" involved in this method, which can be remedied with calendar reminders on smart phones or computers.
WATER ONLY WHEN NO RAIN FOR 2 WEEKS.
1. This is pretty much the same thing as the ON / OFF week, except that you only water if there is no rain for 2 weeks, LEAVE the CONTROLLER OFF and either run it MANUALLY or turn it to RUN/AUTO if we have not had rain for the past 14 days
Remember you can HAND WATER ANYTIME as needed is allow in the city of austin ordinance. As long as the hose is in your hands, you are cognizant and OK to water anytime. RAIN BARRELS are good source of non chlorinated "free" water during these waste water averaging periods. They make a good Christmas gift and encourage conservation.
Speaking of smart phones, for those with SMART CONTROLLERS or INTEREST in a SMART CONTROLLER. We have plenty of experience in programming and have installed HUNDREDS or SMART CONTROLLERS, SENSORS and WIFI based controllers for our clients and these can be a great Christmas gift for the holidays. The GIFT that pays you back in better accurate watering and more customizable control compared to "set it and forget it" RUN TIME based controllers.
Hope this helps.