Tips and Tricks for Getting the Most Out of Your Sprinkler System: Get to Know Your Timer

Women programming a Toro irrigation control panel

Are you getting the most out of your sprinkler system? One way to check is to look at your irrigation timer. Chances are you’re underutilizing the technology it brings to your yard.  

Your irrigation timer, often called a controller, is really the brains of your system. It’s likely one of the most convenient tech tools for your outdoor space, saving you time, facilitating optimal water savings, and maintaining a healthy landscape. The key is learning how to use it to its potential. Here are a few features that can help make watering more efficient.

Seasonal Adjust Feature

The goal is to water your lawn and garden spaces only when they need it. Hot weather typically means grass and landscapes need more water. Many timers offer a Seasonal Adjust feature that increases the amount of water delivered to your landscape in warm weather months and decreases watering during cooler times of the year, all without having to reprogram your system.

Choose Specific Days

Community watering restrictions have conditioned us to think our lawn needs to be watered every other day. But the odd/even mentality may not be the best way to water your lawn. Timers with 365-day calendars allow you to choose specific days of the week, exclude days and yes, pick the odd or even day option. This feature not only saves water, but also makes sure you comply with local watering rules.

Alternate Programming

You’ve programmed your timer with the start times, run times and days to water. Why would you ever need to alter that program? Many timers give you alternate programming options to meet specific watering needs. Maybe one area of your lawn needs to be watered more often than others, or you have a garden space that only needs water once a week. Alternate programs give you flexibility and deliver water more or less often, depending on your needs. Every timer is different, but most will give you at least three programming options.

Sensor On or Off?

Rain sensors are a great tool for shutting your sprinkler system down when it rains. If you have a rain sensor as part of your system, your timer will likely have an on/off switch for your sensor. In most cases, you’ll want to keep your rain sensor activated or on, allowing it to shut down the system when a predetermined amount of rain has fallen. But there are times when you may want to override the shutoff. Turning the sensor to the off position allows you to make programing changes or run the system manually even if the sensor has detected moisture.

New Technologies

Upgrading your timer can increase your options for water savings and convenience. Newer timers offer wireless technology that allows you to program your irrigation system, water features, and outdoor lighting directly from your phone or a handheld remote. They can also connect to soil moisture sensors and wireless weather sensors that activate or shut off your sprinkler system when water is not needed, or rain is on the way.

Want to learn more about the water-saving features of your timer? Visit

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