Smart irrigation technologies use water efficiently Email
Colorado Green NOW
Tuesday, July 07, 2015 12:48 PM

In California #DroughtShaming on social media is a hot trend as many people try to reduce water usage. A popular form of drought shaming involves posting photos of sprinklers spraying water on concrete, or irrigations systems running while it’s raining. There are many “smart” technologies available that can maximize water efficiency and put an end to those wasteful and embarrassing situations.

July is Smart Irrigation MonthSharing these options with consumers can help them save water, save money, and save face. Encourage them to take advantage of these cost-saving ideas that are good for them and good for the planet.

Rain/Freeze Sensors
Rain sensors prevent irrigation systems from running when it is raining and right after rain events when irrigation is unnecessary. Rain/freeze sensors add the ability to stop irrigation when temperatures approach freezing to prevent ice on landscapes and hardscapes. These devices can reduce irrigation water usage up to 35 percent and help extend irrigation system life.

Weather-based Controllers
Weather-based controllers actually adjust irrigation schedules based on local weather conditions. These climate-based systems gather local weather information, and some even factor in your exact landscape (types of plants, soils, slopes, etc.) to make irrigation run-time adjustments so your landscape always receives the appropriate amount of water. These self-adjusting controllers are convenient, and water savings can be substantial.

Sensor-based Controllers
Sensor-based controllers rely on soil moisture sensors placed below ground, in the root zones of lawns and landscapes, to determine if and how long to water. Soils may be maintained between lower and upper target moisture levels for optimal plant health. Alternatively, a simpler decision is to schedule the regular irrigation program to run based on the soil moisture. Weather-based and sensor-based control products are available as stand-alone controllers or add-on devices to existing controllers. Each has been shown to reduce irrigation water usage up to 70% without sacrificing the quality of your landscaping.

Pressure Regulation
All sprinklers operate best at a certain water pressure. At those pressures the water distribution is most uniform over the target area. That allows shorter run times because for an entire lawn to be green you basically end up setting a schedule to provide sufficient water to the driest spot. Reducing high pressure also eliminates problems such as misting sprinklers and potential irrigation system damage. And for every 5-point reduction in water pressure you actually use 6 to 8 percent less water. Those savings can add up quickly. Water pressure regulation devices are easily added to valves to control a whole irrigation zone or can be added to individual sprinklers.

Low Precipitation Rate and High-Efficiency Nozzles
Many great sprinkler nozzles are on the market today that use lower precipitation rates to reduce run-off or offer improved water distribution uniformity. Distribution uniformity is very important to reducing watering run times. Again, you want the entire area being watered to receive sufficient water to maintain green lawns and colorful plants, so the more uniform the water distribution, the shorter the watering run time will be for the driest spot.

Drip Irrigation
Rather than spraying wide areas, drip irrigation systems generally utilize point emitters to deliver desired volumes of water to particular locations at or near plant root zones. Water drips slowly from emitters either onto the soil surface or below ground. Less water is lost to wind and evaporation as a result, and weeds can also be reduced. Drip irrigation systems are very water-efficient and customizable for even different plants in a small area.

All of these water-efficient products can reduce water use and water bills without sacrificing plant and landscape health. Consumers can still enjoy all of the benefits associated with attractive and enjoyable landscapes on your property while helping to conserve a precious natural resource.

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Learn more at

Provided for the Irrigation Association by Rain Bird Corporation

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Need help funding your business growth?
Smart Irrigation Month can save money and win customers
Opportunity and growth signal a need for skilled labor
6 wishes of a dying landscape professional

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