Six Steps to a More Efficient Irrigation System

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City of Tampa water utility customers looking for ways to reduce their water use may need to look no further than their yards. A review of recent results of irrigation efficiency evaluations performed for several customers returned a number of recommendations that may be beneficial for all customers wanting to be sure they get full benefit of the water they apply to their lawns.

Here are some simple steps that can increase irrigation efficiency:

  • Overgrowth can prevent a pop-up head from fully extending and prevent water from reaching the outer edges of its coverage area. The remedy can be as easy as trimming turf away from irrigation system heads.
  • Inspect each head to make sure that when fully extended the spray is elevated above the level of the turf. Over time, many Florida yards increase in density and if the spray doesn’t reach above turf level, water will not reach the outer edges of its coverage area. The remedy may be to de-thatch the turf or to adjust the spray nozzle to extend above the top of the turf.
  • Check heads in or near plant beds, trees or structures to be sure that nothing is blocking the path of the water. Possible remedies are to remove the obstruction, move the head, or extend the head above the obstruction.
  • Check regularly for head damage and leaks. Sprinkler heads are highly vulnerable to damage from cars, mowers, kids, or just about anything that moves across an unprotected head. Damage to a head can significantly increase the amount of water applied by the head during each irrigation event.
  • Check regularly to be sure that irrigation heads are in an upright position. Tilted or leaning heads apply a large amount of water to one portion of the coverage area and deprive other portions of that area from adequate water.
  • Check regularly for clogs that may prevent an even application of water when the system is in use.

This simple list of system checks includes the most common irrigation inefficiencies found on systems throughout Tampa, and these are the types of inefficiencies that often lead irrigation system users to compensate by increasing the amount of time the system operates.

Do-It-Yourself Sprinkler Checkup help is available online, along with other water-saving tips, at Tampa’s water use restrictions provide an allowance for up to 10 minutes per zone once a week for irrigation system maintenance during restricted hours. Individuals conducting maintenance on their system using this allowance are cautioned to be sure to have someone assisting them visible in the front yard to alert Water Enforcement patrol staff that maintenance is in progress.

City of Tampa utility customers may request  irrigation efficiency evaluation assistance by calling (813) 274-8121, option 5, or by emailing

Tampa Water Department serves a 211-square mile area with a service population of approximately 560,000 people. The Tampa Water Department’s mission is to provide superior drinking water and reclaimed water services to its customers.

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