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We can expect two more months of summer heat, which means it will be necessary to make sure our yards get enough water. Fortunately, all homes in Windsor Hills have irrigation systems; however, it is essential that we use our systems correctly to maximize the benefits of watering (see “Irrigation Instructions” article). Chinch bugs thrive in hot, dry weather and can do great damage to our grass if left untreated (see “Chinch Bugs”). 

A significant component of an irrigation system is the controller, the timer that runs our irrigation system. It can be very complicated to program. Just like any other electrical device, it needs to be replaced sooner or later. While the WHHOA does cover the cost of irrigation repairs, it does not pay to replace or install a controller. That is the homeowner’s responsibility.  

Should you have irrigation problems (leaks, or broken pipes or heads) call the Clubhouse and request an irrigation repair. Town Center will check your system and make repairs as needed. However, if the controller needs to be replaced, they will quote you a price to install a Rain Bird simple-to-set controller. You will need to write Town Center a check for this service.

All houses in Windsor Hills have ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) installed to protect you from being shocked. You will have one in the kitchen, bathroom, and garage. You can tell a GFCI from other outlets because it will have a red and a black button or, with newer GFCIs, a light. When you plug in an appliance, such as a hairdryer, the GFCI outlet monitors the amount of power going to the device. If you drop the appliance, the GFCI detects the interruption of current and cuts off the power. To reset the GFCI, you need to push the red button and power should return.  

Power outages or spikes are frequent in the high heat of summer. If we have a power outage or spike, it could trip the GFCIs in your house or the garage, cutting off the power. If the GFCI is tripped in the garage, it will cut the power to your controller and, therefore, your system will not work. This means you should check your garage GFCI whenever we experience a power issue. If your controller shows the correct time, it could be because you have a battery backup. A battery backup is designed to save your irrigation program, but it does not have the power to run your system. If you check your GFCI and it was not tripped, you should be okay.  

If your controller does not show the current time or is blank, you should check the GCFI in the garage. If you have to reset the GFCI, check the controller. A controller has a default program, and if it loses power, it will show the year the program was set. If it doesn’t show the year 2018, then you need to reprogram the controller entirely. 

Preventing and/or Treating Chinch Bugs
You should check your yard for chinch bugs by looking for areas of dead grass. Damaged areas appear as brown patches that expand as the bugs move to feed on more grass. On the other hand, brown areas that need water may show some green grass or weeds in the dry areas.

These small bugs can be detected by using a tuna can with both ends cut out. In three or four different areas, push the can two or three inches into the soil at the edge of the damaged area. Fill the can with soapy water above the grass level. Any chinch bugs that are present will float to the surface in five minutes.

Eliminate bugs by (1) applying a mixture of insecticidal soap and water to the affected area, or (2) applying an insecticide formulated to kill chinch bugs. The soapy water will drive chinch bugs up in the grass where birds can feast on them. Removing the dead thatch exposes chinch bugs to birds and insects. A lawn treatment company may be most effective in treating large areas of chinch bugs.

Irrigation Instructions
The Woodlands Joint Power Agency suggests watering your lawn in two or more cycles. For example, if you have been running your system for one cycle of stations at 10 minutes each, you will waste a lot of water. It takes time for the water to soak into the hard ground, and therefore a lot will run off and be wasted.  Instead of watering one 10-minute cycle, if you water two 5-minute cycles, you will use the same amount of water but avoid a lot of waste from runoff since your lawn will absorb more water. The advantage is the first 5-minute cycle will get everything wet with little runoff. By the time the system completes the first cycle of all stations and starts the second 5-minute cycle, the ground is soft and absorbs much more of the water. Regardless of the amount of time each station runs, it is better to run multiple short cycles than one long cycle. If you have been running one 15-minute cycle, it would be better to run three 5-minute cycles instead. Once again, the amount of water is the same, but the amount absorbed will be much more.