Up to 70% of your household water use is outdoors. This is why it’s so important to ensure you are watering efficiently. Raise your hand if you adjust your irrigation controller four times a year with the seasons. More than likely, you did not raise your hand. Either way, don’t worry there is a controller that is so smart that it adjusts automatically according to everything going on in your yard! This technology reduces the overall amount of water used up to 50% and reduces your water bill, saving you money, and helping to conserve a precious resource.

“Smart” VS “Not-so-smart”

Rain Bird ESP-SMT4 Smart Controller

The “not-so-smart” or “traditional” irrigation controllers required us to determine how much to water and when. With the “smart” irrigation controllers you simply program in the conditions for each zone. The programming information includes:

  • light conditions (full sun, 25% shade, 50% shade, 75% shade, and full shade)
  • plant type (grass, annuals, groundcover, shrubs, and trees)
  • amount of slope (0°-2°, 3°-4°, 5°-7°, 8°-Up)
  • soil type (sand, loamy sand, sandy loam, loam, clay loam, silty clay, and clay)

Another feature is the on-site weather sensor that communicates current weather data on a regular basis back to the controller. The weather station measures rain fall and temperature and compares this information with the programmed historical data based upon the zip code entered. As weather conditions change, the irrigation schedule adjusts accordingly on a daily basis.


When the controller is programmed correctly, you can expect to maintain a healthy landscape while consuming up to 50% less water than “traditional” time-based controllers. One bonus feature of some “smart” controllers is that you can program the controller anywhere you want. The old days of standing out in summer heat and trying to program your controller while having difficulty reading the display are over. All you have to do is install a 9-Volt alkaline battery in the controller and program it from your couch inside your air conditioned home. The pre-programmed information is saved in non-volatile memory for retrieval at a future date.

Rebate programs

Summer is coming soon and why not start the season with a “smart” controller to do all the work for you. Save water and save money! Check with your water provider, as some offer controller rebates and may be able to assist with the cost of the unit such as the cities of Scottsdale, Peoria, and Chandler. Also in the spring, Salt River Project (SRP) has a Water Conservation Expo and offers a “smart” irrigation controller discount. For more information on “smart” irrigation controllers, visit SRP’s Facts and Questions page. Remember there are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.

Salt River Project (SRP) is one of fifteen Water – Use It Wisely regional partners who offer conservation assistance to water customers. Contact your local water conservation office.

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