July is Smart Irrigation Month, which promotes efficient water usage for home and business owners. The average residence uses about 150,000 gallons of water a year. A little over half is for outdoor use and most of that amount is used in a six to seven month period, some 375 gallons a day. Smart irrigation can reduce this amount by about 15%, — 60 gallons/day or 12,000 gallons/year. The US has recently experienced drought along the west coast, extending to Colorado, so it is extremely important to implement smart irrigation practices.
Definition of “Smart” Irrigation
Before learning how to use water efficiently, it is important to understand what smart water usage looks like. When using the word “smart” to define a watering practice, or any other energy use, it usually means two things: 1. It conserves the resource (avoids waste) and, 2. Considers the regional and global impact of use. Efficiency and saving are the two main goals of “smart” usage.
Efficient Water Scheduling
Our in-house irrigation expert, John Butters, has more than 28 years of irrigation experience. He says, “Water efficiency is fostered by a combination of uniformity and proper scheduling. A poorly designed and installed system has little chance of ever being efficient. However, a well designed and installed system that provides nice uniform coverage can still be inefficient if watering is not scheduled properly. The frequency and duration of watering is very important.” It is also important to work with the weather –don’t water when it rains or freezes to prevent waste.
The “cycle and soak” method can also increase your water efficiency. Watering in increments throughout the day and allowing ample time between cycles can allow your entire yard to receive water without creating runoff. Rainbird irrigation systems offer great tips on the cycle and soak method.
Irrigation System Maintenance
Smart irrigation practices require frequent adjustments to the watering schedule based on the weather. Most people set their schedules in the spring and leave it the same all year. Schedules should be adjusted at least month to month. Also the addition of rain/weather sensors to your system can prevent unnecessary watering. Routine maintenance is also important. Over time, sprinkler heads can tend to settle/sink and or lean. Straightening and leveling heads can help tremendously in maintaining proper/uniform coverage.
Large turf areas tend to be the water hogs. Removal or reduction of turf is key to creating an efficient lawn. There are many options such as shrub beds, hardscapes, rock or mulch beds, etc. Xeriscaping is an extremely popular option among Colorado residents. There are many xeric plants that can do well and are very attractive with a very low water requirement. Most nurseries can provide a list to help you with your selection.
Rainbird, one of our preferred irrigation systems, offers 25 Ways to Save Water on their website. Check out their water-saving tips and join us in celebrating Smart Irrigation Month!
If you are ready to install a smart irrigation system or need a consultation for water-efficient landscape design, call us today at 719-638-1000.