Sprinkle right in Denver

Sprinkle Right in Denver, CO

John Davenport – Colorado Trout Unlimited Watershed Ambassador.

 Snow pack is DOWN. Water anxiety is up. We’ll have plenty of water. WRONG. We live in a high plains desert. We live with water laws which allocate all available water. The mighty Colorado River seldom reaches the Gulf of California. If we don’t act, we’ll have dry river beds where we now have rivers in Colorado. The fish will be pissed.

But you can act.

1. Check your water history. You use over 60% of your water on your lawn. If you use popup fixed spray heads half of the water is simply running off or being blown away. Why? Because Denver soil is high in clay and the water from these heads never sinks in to the soil.

2. Get you heads right. It’s always a good idea to get your head right. Once more it’s simple and cheap. Even Denver Parks is doing it.

3. The right head is a Rotator Head. These recently available heads put out water in larger drops (to limit blowing), over a wider area (fewer sprinkler heads), and at a slow rate which can be absorbed into the soil.  You must water longer but will actually put on 30% less water, the amount you waster with spray heads.

4. The cost is about $5.88 (full circle) to $7.58 (90 to 210 deg arc),  but Denver Water (2018) has a $3.00 rebate  and a $100 (dropping to $75 on April 16) rebate for water-sensing controllers. (Check the Denver Water site for current rebates.) If you have good finger nails, it takes no tools to install them.  You won’t need 60% of your sprinkler heads, so you can cap them or put washers over the strainer baskets to block them off.

Here’s a recap.


Wrong – Fixed Spray heads.

  • Puts on water faster than the Denver ground can absorb. Wastes 30% of water.
  • Fine mist is blown away from target lawn wasting water.
  • To water at the right rate (<.5 in/hr) your sprinkler controller must be programmed to run, then rest, then run again for every zone to allow the water to percolate into the soil rather than just run off into the street.
  • High flow rates require many zones and many pop-up nozzles.

Right – Adjustable Rotator 

  • Puts on water at a rate the ground can absorb. Saves 30% of water.
  • Large drops can be easily targeted at sharp angles and long distances.
  • One longer period of watering simplifies controller programming. Try 30 min 2x per week. Brown lawns are NOT DEAD. Even Bluegrass goes dormant when water is withheld. Think of grass as a true Zombie organism. It looks dead but is actually undead.
  • Only ¼  the number of sprinkler heads are required.
  • Denver Water (in 2018)  rebated $3 of the $5/head cost.
  • Replacing heads is simple. Click here. 

Your next step? Put in the right grass or Xeriscape.

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