How to Program Sprinkler System

how to program sprinkler system, How to Program Sprinkler System

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Few things are more impressive and help maintain the value of your property like growing a lush green lawn. An automated sprinkler system is one of the best ways to ensure that your landscaping impresses for all the right reasons. However, without a proper understanding of how to program a sprinkler system, you run the risk of damaging your lawn and making it much harder for hearty and healthy grass to develop. 

 If you are wondering how to program your sprinkler to ensure a lush green and carpeted lawn, keep reading. This article will cover everything you need to know to make the green grass of your lawn grow to its healthiest and best possible conditions.

How To Program Sprinkler System: The Basics

how to program sprinkler system, How to Program Sprinkler System

Before jumping into the best technique for programming your automatic sprinkler system, it will be useful to familiarize yourself with the basics of the controller system you will be using to program your sprinkler. It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of experience with programming other types of sprinklers or just purchased your first automated sprinkler system today, it’s never bad to learn about the foundation of how something works.

To learn more about how your automatic sprinkler system works, you will want to first understand the different components making it up. Familiarize yourself with the following sprinkler terms:


The valve is the place on your property where water flows into your sprinkler system. As the valve opens, water is able to move through the sprinkler, and when it closes the flow of water stops. It is important to know where all the valves are located on the exterior of your property. Drawing a map of this information can be quite useful if you are having trouble covering your entire property. You might also choose to add information to your valve diagram of the different types of plants and their watering needs. This simple step can save a lot of time and effort in the future.


A station is used to control valves on your property. Very large properties could have a single station responsible for controlling two or more valves. Most properties are designed with one valve per each zone of the property. When you are programming your sprinkler, you will want to be aware of which stations to activate to cover all the different zones that compromise the different areas of your lawn that you want to water. You will likely find that not every area of your lawn needs to be watered as much as other sections. It can take time to learn this but understanding what different plants need to thrive is essential to growing a healthy lawn with lots of beautiful decorative plants.


When you think of the area of your home that is being used to water a section of your lawn it is known as a station, however, when you consider the space receiving the water, this is known as a zone. A bed used to grow vegetables could be one zone and another section of grass could make up another. When you create a map of your lawn and the plants’ watering needs, be sure to think in terms of different zones. Creating a map makes a great visual reference of what different plants need to succeed.


Many automatic sprinklers will come with three different programs available. These programs manage when and for how long each station operates. You could choose to set program A to cover a zone containing vegetables, you might choose program b to cover a large section of grass, and so on. Remember that depending on how large your property is, you might need to deploy multiple sprinklers to cover all the different areas and watering needs of your property.

Understanding Automatic Sprinkler Timer Features

how to program sprinkler system, How to Program Sprinkler System

Now that you understand the different terms connected to setting your sprinkler system, you will want to shift your focus towards understanding the unique features of your device.

When in doubt, be sure to refer to the owner’s manual and documentation provided by your sprinkler system’s manufacturer. There is a chance that your sprinkler system could use different terms or come with additional features. The best way to understand your product is to read specific information about how to use it.

Start Time

Your sprinkler system will allow you to choose a specific time of day for each of the programs available to start. Once a program starts, your lawn is being watered according to the conditions set in that program. After your system works through all program settings, the watering will stop.

Run Time

The run time refers to the amount of time that each station on your sprinkler remains in operation. If you set a run time of 45 minutes, you can expect the valves to close and for watering to stop after 45 minutes have passed by.


When your sprinkler is set to run, it will go through all the programs that you have set in order and then stop.


If you need to stop your sprinkler program from running, simply select the off or stop functions. This will be useful in case you need to move across an area of the lawn that is being watered and you don’t want to get wet.


The semi-auto feature is useful if you want to run a particular program for longer than usual. This can be helpful during times when your area might be experiencing a drought or excessive heatwave which makes your plants require extra water to stay healthy and vibrant.

Preparing to Set Your Automatic Sprinkler System

Before actually setting up your automatic sprinkler and letting it run while you are away from home, we recommend setting it up and just checking to make sure that everything goes according to plan.

Nothing can ruin a great lawn like having a sprinkler set up to start on the wrong day or time. Precision can really make all the difference when it comes to growing a lush and green carpeted lawn that you are proud to share with friends and family.

Putting it All Together

Once you’ve worked out which days and times you would like your sprinkler to start to optimize the growth of all the unique plants on your property, use the following steps to program your sprinkler according to their needs:

  1. Choose the Program (A, B, or C) you want to use. For each program, you will need to set up the Water Schedule or “Days to Water”, Start Time, and Station Run Times.
  2. Select the “schedule” function (Days to Water). Use it to select the specific days that you want your sprinkler system to run. An example would be Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. In some cases, you’ll need to specify the number of days between waterings.
  3. Select “start-time” and specify the time that you’d like the watering to start. An example would be 5:15 am. If you have newly planted flowers, you may want to water a second time on the same day since the root zone may get dry by late afternoon. If you want to schedule the second start time, perhaps you could choose 4:00 pm. Just remember that the second start time is for the Program you are setting up so all the zones you are watering on this Program will be watered a second time.
  4. Select the “run time” or related function. Select the station of your choice and enter the run time for that valve. Continue selecting stations and entering run times until you have entered a run time for all the stations you will be watering on this Program. Important: do not set a run time for the stations that will not be watered using this Program. A general rule to follow if you have no idea how many minutes to water per station, you can start with the following times and either increase the time if you see you are not getting enough water or decrease the time if you see you are applying too much water:
    1. 3 – 10 minutes for spray head zones
    1. 20 – 40 minutes for rotor head zones
  5. Program setup is complete once you have entered in the Water Schedule or “Days to Water”, Start Time, and Station Run Times.

Interested in an Automatic Sprinkler?

Give us a call and schedule an appointment!