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Irrigation System Tips

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Utility customers more than triple their water consumption during the summer months. That extra water is used to water our lawns and irrigate our gardens. But, are we using our water wisely?


EPA recommends:

a. Water only as needed

b. Detect and repair all leaks in irrigation systems

c. Use soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems

d. Install moisture sensors on sprinkler systems

e. Hire a certified professional to install and maintain any irrigation systems


Conventional irrigation practices waste a lot of water. Irrigating during the day or when it is hot or windy leads to water loss through evaporation. Watering too quickly or too much leads to runoff. The goal of water-wise irrigation is to reduce these losses but still supply as much water as is necessary.

If you're in the market for a water-conserving irrigation system, it's worth checking out WaterSense. Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the program seeks to do for irrigation products and services and plumbing fixtures what the Energy Star label has done for electric appliances. Irrigation technologies and services that have been awarded the WaterSense label are listed on the program's website.

Another resource is the Irrigation Association (IA). They offer insights and best practices for irrigation systems.

Some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water use goes to waste due to evaporation or runoff caused by overwatering.

What Can You Do?

· Irrigate only when your plants need water.

· How often to water depends on a number of factors, including what type of soil you have, the type of plants you're growing, whether your plants are established, the season, and weather conditions. Don't irrigate on a fixed schedule, which wastes water by providing it when your plants don't need an extra drink.

· Frequent, shallow watering leads to weak, shallow-rooted plants. Less frequent, deep watering encourages roots to grow deep, where the soil stays moist longer.

Drip irrigation systems use between 20 to 50 percent less water than conventional in-ground sprinkler systems. They are also much more efficient than conventional sprinklers because no water is lost to wind, runoff, and evaporation. If your in-ground system uses 100,000 gallons annually, you could potentially save more than 200,000 gallons over the lifetime of a drip irrigation system should you choose to install it. That adds up to savings of at least $1,150!