Reduce Runoff and Save Water with the “Cycle & Soak” Method

August 26, 2014 | By Roundtree Landscaping

Have you even watered your grass only to find that ten minutes later water is running down the street...and it’s coming from your lawn?! Sometimes, it’s difficult for our soils to absorb a surge of irrigation water all at once. Our heavy and compacted clay soils can quickly become waterlogged; if they’ve become very dry and hard they will also have a hard time absorbing irrigation water. So how do you deliver the right amount of water at the right time to reduce runoff?

Why is runoff a bad thing? Runoff water from our irrigation systems often contain pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, and soil sediment. These materials can then make their way into our drinking water supply. Not to mention, runoff is a BIG waste of water. To solve this problem and reduce water waste, we recommend following the “Cycle & Soak” Method.

What is the “Cycle & Soak” Method?

Simply put, you will be running your sprinkler system for a shorter period of time, then shutting it off and allowing the water soak in, then running the system again until you reach the recommendation duration. Once the water actually permeates the soil surface, water will saturate more efficiently and deeply during a second or third watering cycle.

There are 3 stages to “Cycle & Soak”

  1. First you must crack the surface of the soil and saturate the top layer.
  2. The next soaking will more efficiently and deeply soak the soil.
  3. The last soak is most beneficial if a slope is involved or if the soil is very compacted.

Example: If you run your sprinkler system a total of 15 minutes over your lawn to equal one inch of water, then you’ll need to break up the time into two 7-minute cycles or three 5-minute cycles.

Not sure how long to run your irrigation system in each zone? The recommended duration will depend on factors such as light exposure, grade, plant material and pressure on your system. If you’re not sure, it may be time for an irrigation system inspection and audit. A certified irrigation specialist can check your entire system, make repairs and provide recommendations for proper watering.

A note about healthy soil. The best way to save water and reduce runoff is to keep your soil healthy. Fertilizing your landscape is essential, but adding organic matter to the soil will improve root development and help to retain water. We offer a year-round soil feeding plan in addition to our landscape fertilization. Contact us for more information and to schedule a consultation.


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