Watering Guide

Weather Changes. So Should Your Watering Times.



Weekly Watering Index

                 Week of June 18th


*What is this number? How do I use it? See FAQ below*


It is important to make monthly, or even weekly, adjustments to your Watering Index on your sprinkler controller.

Maximize outdoor water savings by applying the appropriate amount of water to your yard when your plants need it.  Get started with our tools!  Use the Weekly Watering Index (FAQ) and our online Watering Calculator to help guide you.



Watering Calculator 

Create a customized watering schedule for your yard.  This guide is based on plant material, sprinkler type, soil, and location.  Our online watering calculator will walk you through each irrigation zone.


CLICK HERE to download the watering calendar flyer.

CLICK HERE for videos on how to adjust your specific type of spinkler controller. 

The following outdoor water uses are PROHIBITED:

  • Washing down driveways and sidewalks with potable water.
  • Causing runoff as a result of excess outdoor watering.
  • Using a hose to wash a vehicle, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle.
  • Using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated.
  • Leaks must be fixed within 7 days.
  • Watering between 8 a.m. & 6 p.m. and 48 hours after rain events.


Know your watering days:

  • Customers are encouraged to water 3 days per week during summer (April—October) and 1 day per week during winter (November—March).
  • Use the online watering calculator for lawn & shrub areas - times apply per irrigation zone.

*NOTE:  The watering day restrictions do not apply to low-flow drip irrigation (emitter must apply 2 gallons of water per hour or less), use of a hand-held bucket or a hand-held hose equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle, or sites using recycled water.



lndsp collage



What is a Watering Index?

The Watering Index (%) is a simple way to represent and understand plant water needs. It is based on weather conditions, such as: solar radiation, temperature, relative humidity, wind, and other factors. Summer represents 100% of maximum water needed for plants.

Use the chart below, along with site conditions, to find the right watering index value for your yard! Maximize water savings by using the Green Drought Value as a starting point and go up from there.

Watering Index Drought Chart

How is the Watering Index used?

Most modern sprinkler timers have a feature that lets you use a Watering Index - it is often called a "Seasonal Adjust" or "Water Budget" feature. The Watering Index (%) modifies your sprinkler controller's watering runtimes. It does this by controlling the watering runtimes for all electric valves managed by your sprinkler controller. By adjusting the Watering Index on your sprinkler controller, all your watering runtimes are either increased or decreased. The adjustment is effectively a percentage (%) of the maximum watering runtime allowed by the sprinkler controller for each valve. As an example, if you water for 6 minutes in summer, a 50% Watering Index setting would reduce sprinkler runtimes to 3 minutes.

How should I initially schedule my sprinkler controller before using the Watering Index?

Summer runtimes are defined as having a 100% Watering Index value. You can use your existing summer schedule that you may have already set up. See the "Set Up a Base Watering Schedule" section below for specific information on how to do this.

What if my plants look stressed even though I'm using the recommended Watering Index?

The Watering Index (%) is a tool to help you adjust watering times for the current weather. The Watering Index (%) suggests when adjustments should be made, but you have to be proactive by paying attention to the health of your landscape. If your plants look stressed after setting your Watering Index (%) on your sprinkler controller (i.e. “Seasonal Adjust” or “Water Budget” feature), then make practical adjustments from there based on what your landscape is telling you. You may increase the Watering Index (%) slightly, or if the issue is specific to a certain sprinkler valve, go back to the sprinkler controller and adjust the runtime for that zone.

For help on how to program your sprinkler controller, consult your controller's instructions, CLICK HERE for videos on how to adjust your specific type of sprinkler controller, or also see the "Set Up a Base Watering Schedule" section below.



Set Up a Base Watering Schedule

Summer runtimes are defined as having a 100% watering index value.  Why?  Because summer is the peak season for plant water demand.  You can use your existing summer schedule that you may have already set up.  

Alternatively, you can use the watering calculator to figure out the runtime for each zone (also called a valve or station) in your sprinkler system.  Use our online watering calculator to set up a custom watering schedule for your yard based on plant type, sprinkler type, and soil type (SMWD typically has clay loam soil).  You will be given a chart of watering times as shown below:

watering schedule example

Use the July runtimes for your 100% watering index setting.  For example, using the Grass chart above, July says to water 3 days per week, with 2 watering cycles that water for 5 minutes in duration.  You can schedule runtimes for all your sprinkler valves based on plant and sprinkler type associated with each valve.



Helpful Videos





For more information, please contact the Water Use Efficiency Team at 949-459-6593 or Efficiency@smwd.com.

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