Applying less water will make your landscape more green! The supply of water is something we just can’t take for granted anymore. Experts say that clean, potable water is going to be in short supply in the future. We must find ways to use it more efficiently and recycle it as much as possible. Our clients want their landscapes kept lush and green. It is our job to figure out just how much water can be cut without stressing the turf and the rest of the landscape. There are many techniques and tools available to decrease water use without stressing the landscape.

Ensuring you have good soil and mow high

Water conservation starts with the soil. If you have healthy soil full of microbes, arthropods and earthworms you won’t need nearly as much water. Composting and the application of Milorganite are great ways to soil building. The more organic material in your soil, the more water it retains. Changing mowing height can save water. When it rains, larger leaf area will capture and intercept rainfall allowing it to soak in rather than runoff. Larger leaf area also shades the root system of your turf, cooling the surrounding soil and ensuring less evaporation.

Perform an irrigation “wet check”

Quarterly irrigation wet checks is vital to ensuring the efficient operation of your irrigation system. By turning on your system and walking the site scanning for obvious irrigation issues such as clogged, broken or misting heads; wet walls, driveways, and walkways; and water running into the street; is critical to ensuring that your system is operating correctly. During a wet check components that are not operating correctly can be changed out for new ones. Water usage can be dramatically decreased when you add smart irrigation controllers, soil moisture meters, soil moisture sensors, and rain sensors. Today we have precision nozzles that can save thousands of gallons of water per zone per year. Drip and low-volume micro-sprays and bubblers irrigate in terms of gallons per hour, where conventional sprays and rotors do it in gallons per minute. Drip and point-source irrigation deposits water directly to a plants roots, with little lost to evaporation. This type of irrigation is ideal for landscape beds. Correct calibration of your irrigation controller. The cycle-soak setting on your irrigation controller will ensure that during a particular irrigation event irrigation water will penetrate down into the soil of your turf or landscape without running off and wasting water. The cycle-soak setting will also ensure that your plant and turf roots penetrate deeper into the soil to retrieve that water. Use pressure regulating sprinklers and check valves. As pressure increases, so does and irrigation systems flow rate. Visibly, high-pressure flows look like misted water and clouds of overspray that blowout of the irrigation zone with the wind. Incorrectly calibrated pressure in your irrigation system results in significant water wastage and damage to system components. Pressure regulated sprays and rotors will ensure good water usage stewardship. Together with the integration of check valves into the spray head itself will ensure proper water usage.

Finding turf’s happy medium

Turf replacement is a controversial topic in our landscape and irrigation circles, and understandably so. Removing turf and replacing with artificial turf, native plants and succulents is often recommended when water usage is high. Especially during droughts. Our lawns have enormous benefits. They produce oxygen, reduce soil erosion and reduce the urban heat island effect. Most of all, it produces beauty and provides human enjoyment and serenity. The key is to find a happy medium. Plant turf in areas where it will perform optimally. Together with good soil building techniques and a well-designed and calibrated irrigation system turf will find its proper place in the landscape.

Read More: Fertilizing Irrigation & Drainage Issues

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