Irrigation is critical for a healthy landscape. It allows the landscape to be healthy and maintain its natural beauty. However, when irrigation is not used properly it can waste a lot of money and resources.
By adopting different practices and switching to newer technology, one can save on money and water. “Water-wise” practices are beneficial for not only the landscaper, but for the whole community surrounding it. The Irrigation Association has deemed July Smart Irrigation Month to spread awareness on practices that save water.
The following are ten water saving tips adapted by the Irrigation Association to promote water-wise habits:
1. Change the watering schedule for weather and season
Get to know the settings on the irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule to best support the landscape. For example, there is no need to keep the irrigation on when it is raining outside. The grass, plants, and landscape will get plenty of water thanks to the rain.
2. Schedule each individual zone in the irrigation system
Scheduling refers to the type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, or the soil type in a specific area. The same watering schedule will not apply to all areas. For example, places with sun will need more water than places in the shade. By customizing each zone with its irrigation regime, money and water will be saved.
3. Have monthly system inspections
Leaks, broken or clogged heads, and other problems with the irrigation system can lead to wasting water. Check for these or hire a certified irrigation professional to regularly care for the irrigation system. Also, clean micro-irrigation filters when needed.
4. Adjust sprinkler heads
Fix any obstructions that prevent sprinklers from evenly distributing water. This also includes keeping water off pavement or structures. Having a sprinkler hit the drive way, street, or statue is a waste of money and resources.
5. Get a professional system audit
To make sure that areas are being watered evenly, hire a professional to conduct an irrigation audit and uniformity test. This is especially useful for areas that are under-watered or have brown spots. Check out Irrigation Association’s list of IA Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditors to find a professional today.
6. Install “smart” technology
New technology, such as climate or moisture sensor-based controllers, allows for headache free irrigation. These sensor-based controllers can evaluate weather or soil moisture conditions and automatically adjust the irrigation schedule to meet the specific needs of the landscape.
7. Install a rain shutoff switch
In many states it is required by law to have these money-saving sensors. The sensors turn off the irrigation system in rainy weather and help to compensate for natural rainfall. As a bonus, the device is inexpensive can be retrofitted to almost any system.
8. Low volume drip irrigation for plant beds
Installing micro-irrigation for gardens, trees, and shrubs allows for small amounts of water to sufficiently quench the landscape’s thirst. Micro-irrigation is also known as trickle and includes micro spray jets, micro-sprinklers, and bubbler irrigation to irrigate slowly and minimize evaporation, runoff, and overspray.
9. Water at the right time
Good times to water include when the sun is low or down, winds are calm, and temperatures are cool. The optimal time to water is between the evening and early morning. Watering at these times reduces evaporation, which can result of 30% water loss when watering mid-day.
10. Water only when needed
When watering, saturate the root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease, and fungus. If uncertain when to water the plants, touch the soil and see if it is moist. If the soil still feels wet there is no need to water, but if it is dry it is time to water, just wait until the evening!