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How to Measure Sprinkler Output

Once you put in an automatic sprinkler system, you’ll need to stand in the front yard with a frothy beverage and just watch them flow…or at least that’s what my dad did. Later, I realized he was actually trying to determine if the heads were watering the landscaping evenly.

Dad’s method is definitely one way to do it. We might recommend another. Measuring the output is fairly easy and not very scientific and allows you to make quick and efficient changes. Just follow these pointers:

  1. Take six to eight empty tuna cans (or cat food cans – something with a straight side to it) and place them evenly throughout your yard.
  1. Turn your sprinklers on and let them run for 20 minutes.
  1. Measure the water in each can with a ruler.
  1. Add the measurements and divide the total number by the number of cans used.
  1. Multiply that number (the average) by 3 to estimate how many inches of water your sprinkler system puts out in one hour.
  1. Round to the nearest half-inch.
  1. Use this number to help you schedule irrigation times and amount. If they vary more than 20 percent, adjustments should be made. (Note: this may be regulated by watering restrictions in your area.)

If you’re not getting the results you want regarding output from your sprinklers, we encourage you to call a certified contractor to help you.

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