SMART IRRIGATION TRENDS

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Recent water shortages in several areas of the country have a put a spotlight on irrigation and the importance of making it more efficient. But being efficient isn’t just about conserving water, although that’s a big part of it. It also means getting water to plant material when needed most and in the right quantities. 

Heavy, less frequent watering that encourages deep, sturdy root systems is preferred over frequent, light watering that causes plants to develop shallow roots.  As a general rule, established grass needs one inch of water per week during the active growing season. Flower beds may need watering more frequently, depending on the type and number of plants, their growth stages, and the amount and depth of mulch used. When they receive supplemental water is important, too. Less water is lost to evaporation during the early morning and evening hours.

Here are a few important things to consider when planning to renovate or install an irrigation system:

  • Routine maintenance is important. Building owners and property managers are beginning to understand that irrigation maintenance is a service that needs to be performed routinely. Components need to be checked, oftentimes straightened, and cleaned.
  • Perform a water audit. An irrigation system water audit can isolate potential problems and create awareness about how much water is actually being used for irrigation.
  • Review irrigation. A review of a property’s landscape will determine if mature plant material actually still needs to be irrigated. In some instances, zones can be permanently shut to save water.
  • Save money. There is a limited supply of water, which creates one ongoing trend: the price of water will never go down; it will only go up.
  • Use new technology. Internet-based software programs, often referred to as smart-irrigation solutions, provide a cost-effective way to manage water usage even for small users. Smart controllers can either be weather or sensor based.
  • Update equipment. New nozzles have been developed to provide more efficient and uniform water application.
  • Drip Irrigation. As water becomes more scarce and more costly, low volume or drip irrigation will become more popular.

Landscape professionals or irrigation specialists can provide a water audit and check for potential problems in irrigation systems. They can also offer suggestions on how a hardware or software upgrade can save water and money while ensuring turf and flower beds receive the supplemental water they need to thrive.