Summer is here, and although we have had a stretch of wet weather, the warmer weather is coming back! This means that your lawn will most likely require more water in order to stay green, which sends most people scrambling out to their garages to figure out how to make their irrigation controllers apply more water during the warmer weather. There is a feature found on just about every irrigation controller, regardless of the manufacturer, that can make your life far simpler. Unfortunately, most people don’t know that the feature exists, or how it works.
The “seasonal adjust” feature goes by many names depending on who made the controller. Rain Bird, which we use in all of our installations, calls the function “seasonal adjust” in most of their controllers. Other manufacturers call it a “water budget”, and there are probably other names for it as well. All of these functions work the same way – by increasing (or decreasing) the set watering times by a percentage value. For instance, if you have a watering zone set to go on for 10 minutes daily, and set the seasonal adjust to 150% (or +50% depending on the model), that zone will now water for 15 minutes daily. At 70% (or -30%), the zone will come on for 7 minutes. Please note that different controllers use different notations for calculating the seasonal adjustment. Most Rain Bird controllers we come across use a 5%-200% range, with 200% being twice the programmed watering time and 100% being the actual programmed value (lower values indicate a decrease in the programmed times). Other controllers, such as the ESP-RZX (a great, simple to use Rain Bird residential model) denotes the adjustment as a +% or -%. In this case, +50% would be the same as 150% on the other models. Consult your manual if you are unsure.
Why is this feature so handy? The intention is that you set your controller program at a baseline level (100%, or +/- 0%), and use the seasonal adjust feature to increase or decrease the watering time depending on the season. In July/August, you may raise the adjustment to 150%. In late September, you may want to lower it to 60% until you finally turn it off for the season. The bottom line is that instead of having to go through your controller and changing settings for every zone, you can universally increase or decrease your watering with a single, simple, straightforward setting.