Manual systems keep you in touch with your garden and its water needs. You must decide each day if, when and how much to water. You must be there when it’s time to turn the system on and when it’s time to turn it off. Studies show that people with manual systems use less water than people with automatic systems.
Semi-Automatic systems, which work similar to a kitchen timer, require you to turn the water on manually but the system turns itself off at the end of the time (or number of gallons) you set.
Automatic systems are the most common type. They use an electronic controller to do all the work for you. Traditional automatic systems never forget to water . . . even if it’s raining. Because we tend to ignore automatic systems (why bother with them - they’re automatic), studies show that people with these systems use more water than people with manual systems. They automatically water whether or not the plants need water and/or they water longer than necessary.
Weather-Sensitive systems, which are now affordable for residential use, add sensors and/or telemetry to the controller to adjust watering times automatically for the day-to-day weather changes in your garden. Studies show that weather-sensitive controllers save a lot of water. Contact your water utility to find out how to get one of these smart controllers for your home.