Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Rain Sensor Sprinklers Can Save Water

Rain sensor sprinklers can sense when it’s raining and turn off automatic sprinklers and save water.

Yesterday’s rain was a welcome sight for our lawns and gardens, one  that hopefully signals the start of our rainy season and allows us to turn off our sprinklers and save water.

In a normal year, experts advise turning off sprinklers starting in November, and leaving them off until March. But sometimes the rains are unpredictable and we get hot spells, so many homeowners leave their sprinklers on and we often see sprinklers running in the rain. Automatic sprinklers with rain sensors can help homeowners better manage watering our lawns and gardens.

And even if it’s not actually raining, irrigation experts recommend adjusting sprinklers as the weather cools down and our peak summer irrigation requirement has subsided.  Smart controllers self adjust based on plant materials and the weather, explained Bill Kabaker of Precise Landscape Water Conservation, an irrigation specialist who teaches at UCLA.  

More sophisticated devices are tied to a weather sensor that reads the high and low temperatures, and automatically adjusts the sprinkler run times.  They can also factor in the plant materials, so that lawns are watered differently from garden beds and other areas.

Kabaker explained that some devices are even connected to your smart phone, allowing to adjust them easily without being home.  Others, he said, have an automatic rain cutoff, so that if it starts to rain the sprinklers will turn off.  And other get a weather report, and if there’s more than a 50 percent chance of rain, they turn off the system.

All these devices are great ways to make sure you are not overwatering your lawn or garden. But they are not foolproof. One homeowner told us that she had noticed the sensor water more often than she would have because it follows weather and temperature forecasts instead of doing what she does, which is simply check to see if the soil in her vegetable garden is dry and needs water.

Smart controllers also might not work if you have a lot of stations or many different kinds of plantings. But if you just have a lawn and you want to make sure the sprinklers aren’t running in the rain or on cool cloudy days, these devices can help.

Or, if you prefer, you can just do it the old fashioned way. November is an ideal time to simply turn off your sprinklers and keep an eye on the weather. There’s no replacement for an attentive gardener. 

Sprinklers overspray is a waste of water. Experts say more residential site are 50% overwatered.
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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  1. I love my smart controller — Hunter PHC 600, 6-station — from Aqua Flo in Culver City. I didn’t think I would want one more tech gadget, but I have enjoyed being able to easily control my irrigation from my lap top and smart phone from anywhere. I rec’d a rebate for the $180 cost of the controller about 2 years ago from the So Cal Water Rebate program. Hope your article inspires many!


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