Preventing Water Loss: Cycle and Soak

Preventing Water Loss: Cycle and Soak

 According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average U.S. household uses about 320 gallons of water per day, and outdoor water use accounts for 30 percent of total household water use.

 The EPA's data shows that the average lawn requires about 0.62 inches of water per week. That means a 1,000-square-foot lawn requires about 7,000 gallons of water per year. As population growth, climate change, and other environmental pressures increase, water conservation has become a top priority for many state and local governments. Water restriction policies include limiting the number of times a lawn can be watered, offering rebates or incentives for installing water-saving devices, and more.

garding tools

Why is There Water Loss?

 Soil texture, land slope, and permeability affect the rate at which water penetrates the soil. For example, clay soils with low permeability and steep slopes can lead to erosion, soil degradation, and water pollution. This is because water can only flow over the surface and not infiltrate into the soil produce runoff. At least 50% of outdoor water use can be lost through inefficient irrigation, wind, or evaporation. The simplest solution for landscapes is to choose an effective watering method - cycle and soak methods are inexpensive and efficient ways to use water.

outdoor water faucet

What Is Cycle and Soak?

 On average, soil can absorb about 0.2 inches of water per hour. This, of course, is an average estimate; actual infiltration rates vary depending on soil type, climate, and precipitation, among other factors. When you water faster than the soil can absorb, the excess water will flow into other areas such as drains or sidewalks because it cannot be absorbed.

 The cycle and soak method involves scheduling several short watering cycles on the same day, with roughly 30 minutes set aside between each cycle for the water to soak the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches. This method not only promotes deep root development and improves plant health; it also reduces runoff and uses more water efficiently.

lawn water sprinkler

How do I Cycle and Soak?

 The amount of water required will vary depending on factors such as grass type, soil type, and climate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that lawns in most areas of the U.S. need about 1 inch of water per week, including precipitation. Following this data, we can begin to implement a sprinkler-assisted recirculation and soaking watering method.

Step 1: Determine sprinkler head flow rates

 Based on the sprinkler flow rate, the size of the watering area, and the amount of water required, we can calculate how long the sprinklers will run.

Step 2: Facilitate automated irrigation controller operation

 Assuming we need the sprinklers to run for 15 minutes in each area to achieve the desired goal, divide this watering time into two or three cycles for better water penetration. For example, if you water for a total of 15 minutes, you could divide it into three 5-minute periods, with 30 minutes of soaking time set aside between each period.

 You can program the watering cycles using an irrigation controller as follows:

Cycle 1

Cycle 2

Cycle 3

Duration of watering:

5 minutes

Duration of watering:

5 minutes

Duration of watering:

5 minutes

Next watering time:

30 minutes later

Next watering time:

30 minutes later


 The first cycle helps to break the surface tension of the soil and can help the water to penetrate deeper into the soil so that it reaches the roots. The second cycle helps the water to be absorbed deeper into the soil for the plant to use. The third cycle ensures that the root zone is filled with water, providing plants with enough moisture for optimal growth.

 The Rainpoint Smart WiFi Irrigation Controller has a Rainy-Day Auto Delay feature. If you suddenly encounter a rainy day, you can turn on the delay schedule with one click on the app to use the precipitation wisely and not supply extra water to your lawn.

hose attachment

Step 3: Observe the growth of your lawn and make adjustments

 Depending on the growth of your property, you can adjust the amount of water according to the appropriate conditions to create ideal conditions for healthy plant growth.

Other Water-Saving Tips

 In addition to using the soak and cycle method, there are other watering techniques we can follow to achieve water savings.

  • Water in the early morning or late evening when the temperature is cooler to reduce evaporation.
  • Use a rain gauge or moisture sensor to determine when your lawn needs watering, rather than relying on a fixed schedule.
  • Adjust your sprinklers to make sure they only water your lawn, not the sidewalk or driveway.
  • Consider using drought-tolerant plants or grasses that require less water.
  • Check your sprinkler system regularly for leaks or damage to ensure it is operating effectively.
water flow meter


 It’s important to use water efficiently and minimize waste because our planet constantly cycles through drought and abundance. Whether you are looking to save money on your water bill, reduce your environmental footprint, or make the most of a valuable resource, cycle and soak are an effective solution.

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