What is a Watering Timer?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2020
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A watering timer is a device which can be connected to a watering system and programmed to turn the watering system on and off at specific times. There are a number of reasons to use a watering timer, ranging from a desire to water the garden in an environmentally-friendly manner, to the need to keep the garden watered during long trips away. Many hardware and garden supply stores sell watering timers, and it is also possible to order them through various specialty companies, in a wide range of configurations from simple mechanical dials to complex computerized timers.

When a watering timer is installed, it is mounted to an irrigation system and then programmed. For example, someone might want to program the watering timer to run at night, programming it to turn on at nine in the evening and to run for 10 minutes. Many watering timers can be programmed for multiple daily waterings, and some computerized versions are “smart,” with the capability to override the programming if it rains.


In terms of environmental friendliness, a watering timer can be a great investment. Watering tends to be most efficient when it is done early in the morning or late in the evening, maximizing the amount of water which trickles into the soil, reducing evaporation. By using a watering timer, gardeners can ensure that the garden gets watered at the right time. In regions with water restrictions, using a watering timer can also help gardeners comply with the restrictions by regulating the precise amount of water used to supply the garden.

Depending on the garden and the gardener, a watering timer may simply be hooked up to a lawn sprinkler, or it may be linked with a large irrigation system. For big gardens, irrigation systems are immensely useful, because they ensure that the whole garden gets thoroughly watered. Using a watering timer makes the irrigation system easier to manage, ensuring that no one forgets to water the garden and that the water is turned off once the garden has been watered enough.

People also use watering timers to care for their gardens while they are away. House sitters may not always remember to water the garden, or they may find the watering system intimidating or confusing. Using a watering timer takes the difficulty out of the process, and it also has the benefit of making it look like someone is home if people decide not to use a house sitter, thus deterring would-be thieves.

Some cities use watering timers as anti-loitering measures, setting the timers to sprinkle areas like traffic medians and sidewalks in the middle of the night. These measures usually impact the homeless more than loiterers, making it unpleasant to sleep in downtown areas.


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