Water is generally viewed as a positive force in nature; it keeps our bodies healthy and the flowerbed in your front lawn looking pretty. However, as recent flooding has shown, water can also be harmful or outright destructive. Excessive rainfall can cause property damage and oversaturate the soil around plants with too much moisture. If your lawn or garden has an automatic irrigation system, it’s important to also install rain sensors to better manage water levels in the soil.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Plants need oxygen as much as they need water. In addition to getting their oxygen from the air, plant roots can absorb it from the soil. If the soil stays wet for an extended period of time, due to flooding or excessive rain, the plant can drown.

Wet soil is also the perfect environment for certain type of molds, such as Phytophthora and Rhizoctonia. These organisms attack the roots and can cause rotting to occur in a variety of plants. Symptoms include wilting and death of branches or the entire plant, massive leaf drop and scorched leaf edges.

An excess of moisture is much more likely to harm your lawn than it is to help. By using a rain sensor and automatic shutoff system you can better control how much water your plants receive.

Types of Sensors

There are many different kinds of rain sensors available. While each do roughly the same thing, they perform the task of measuring rainfall in different ways.

  • Tipping Bucket: A tipping bucket rain gauge is similar to a seesaw on a playground. Water collected from the sky is funneled into one of two dishes on either side of a pivot. When the dish becomes full it dumps the water and activates a switch and raises the other side. Each tip usually corresponds to a certain depth of water falling (e.g. 1 tip equals 0.1 inches) and can be tracked digitally by the irrigation system.
  • Electrode: Electrode sensors are designed around water’s ability to conduct electricity. Metal probes are extended above a basin that collects rainwater. When the water level reaches the prongs it completes a circuit that turns off the irrigation system. When the water evaporates below the prongs the system starts back up.
  • Expanding Disk: This sensor tends to be the most common. Small disks of cork are located in a tube that collects rainwater as it falls. These disks expand when wet and the pressure breaks the electric circuit of the irrigation system, preventing it from running. When the cork dries and shrinks the system turns back on.

Your Local Irrigation Experts

River City Landscaping offers a wide variety of full-service landscaping solutions, including irrigation system installation. The River City Landscaping staff has proudly provided the Baton Rouge and surrounding areas with professional landscape services for the past 20 years.

Contact us today for more information.