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Pulse Watering

Be aware that reducing how often you irrigate while increasing how long you irrigate will cause an increased risk of runoff. If you find you have a lot of runoff, pulse watering can be utilized to reduce or stop runoff from occurring. Pulse watering is accomplished by splitting your daily watering into smaller durations with breaks in the irrigation between - this allows the water to absorb into the soil instead of building up above the infiltration capabilities of the soil, causing overflow. For example, for a system with traditional sprinklers, instead of irrigating one station for 45 minutes straight, you could water that same station for 23 minutes, take a 15-minute break, then water it again for another 23 minutes, for a total accumulated run time of 46 minutes. Many irrigation systems only allow for breaking this time into two segments, but some allow for 3 or more. Breaks between segments should be no less than 15 minutes and no more than 1 hour. During these breaks you could water a different station, cycling through all your stations continuously until you reach the correct accumulative total for each station.

A Note About Low Flow Systems

For those with low flow systems, it is worth noting that the intention of low flow irrigation was not to reduce the amount of water given to the plant, but primarily to reduce the amount of runoff that occurs during irrigation, so pulse watering may not be necessary as these systems accomplish the same thing in a slightly different way. Low flow systems have a reduced output to prevent that overflow from occurring and in order to supply the plant with the correct amount of water and make up for the inevitable deficit, the run times need to be increased.