July is National Smart Irrigation Month! As one of the hottest – and driest – months of the year, water usage is high – especially that used for keeping lawns and plants healthy. A properly installed, calibrated, and maintained irrigation system not only promotes a healthy lawn and plant life, it can also save water!
Did you know that while around 71% of the Earth’s surface is water, only a little over 1% of the Earth’s water supply is actually useable by humans? The rest of the Earth’s water is either salt water or frozen, leaving only a very small amount of water available for everyone to share. Over the past century or so, overdevelopment, pollution, and global warming have threatened safe and adequate access to water for millions of people, which is why smart water use matters.
Maintaining lush grass and healthy, robust plants requires watering, but how do you make sure you are watering just the right amount without wasting water (and $)? The best way to ensure you are getting the optimal amount of lawn hydration while reliably reducing overwatering is through the use of a professionally designed, installed, and maintained underground automatic irrigation system.
Smart Sprinkler Systems = Better Water Conservation
The technology surrounding automated sprinkler systems has come a long way, even in just the past few years, with the goal of using water more efficiently and effectively. An efficient automated sprinkler system reduces overwatering (especially in comparison to the old old hose-and-sprinkler method – which famously wastes water as it relies on humans as the sprinkler control system, a system that is subject to forgetfulness in turning sprinklers on and off or even efficiently moving sprinklers to effectively irrigate a homeowner’s entire property). But even automated sprinkler systems can have flaws and promote wastefulness – as anyone who has witnessed a sprinkler system running while it’s raining can attest. Even quality sprinkler systems designed to reduce the amount of water used can be programmed incorrectly – allowing the system to run excessively or even during a rainstorm.
What does it take to make an irrigation system efficient?
Achieving an efficient irrigation system requires sprinkler system components that are expertly designed to conserve water and distribute it evenly. A system’s moving parts (primarily sprinkler heads/rotors) and the sprinkler’s control system are critical to watering efficiency and reducing water waste. The irrigation Pros at Heinen recommend components from two trusted manufacturers, Hunter Industries and Rachio. Both companies have years of comprehensive research and a history of meticulous testing that has allowed them to create components and controllers that have been proven to reduce water loss by as much as 70%.
Hunter Industries is known for creating some of the best sprinkler heads and rotors on the market. No detail is overlooked when they build, test, and manufacture an irrigation product. Known for their incredible durability, Hunter sprinkler heads and rotors are designed with low-precipitation sprays that evenly and efficiently distribute water – avoiding overwatering – along with well-engineered anti-wind and anti-misting features. Learn more about why Heinen irrigation professionals prefer Hunter sprinkler heads here.
A sprinkler’s control system is the brain of an irrigation system, and as such, plays a major role in water conservation. Smart controllers, such as those manufactured by Rachio, include simple-to-use features that make managing your watering schedule easy, convenient, and efficient – and accessible from a smartphone application. The Rachio 3 controller has Weather Intelligence™ Plus – which connects the controller with an extensive network of National Weather Service reporting stations – which are located in multiple areas of the city. This gives the controller access to the most precise weather information for your exact neighborhood location (from North Kansas City to Old Leawood, Mission Hills, Brookside, Lee’s Summit, Olathe, Overland Park, and more!).
The Rachio controller will automatically delay or skip watering sessions if rain is projected, a temperature is too low, or winds are too high in the geography near the controller. What’s more, the Rachio 3 controller “remembers” how much moisture your lawn has experienced in the last couple of days. This means if heavy rain hydrated your grass recently, the Rachio 3 will skip the next watering session.
To augment the water conservation abilities of the mechanical system, the Irrigation Pros at Heinen take installation and system calibration seriously. When planning an irrigation system, the Heinen team reviews each element of a client’s property that might influence the effective dispersion of water. Some factors include soil type (and its ability to absorb water), grass and plant varieties present, the amount of sun exposure for each “zone” of a property, and even slope characteristics of a property (which can also affect rainwater drainage or lack thereof). With each of these factors in mind, the lawn is subdivided into various watering zones.
With a properly zoned sprinkler system, water is distributed across the property based on the environmental characteristics of each zone. For example, one zone may be shaded for the vast majority of the day, so it would require less water than a zone that has high sun exposure. Each zone of a property has its own unique watering needs – and the Heinen irrigation team has vast expertise in calibrating each zone’s sprinkler heads, rotors, and watering duration – guaranteeing the perfect amount of water will be applied to each zone.
How do I maintain my new sprinkler system?
Once an efficient sprinkler system has been professionally installed and calibrated there is almost no maintenance required by the homeowner. The Heinen team generally times sprinklers to activate in the morning time, usually between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. This decreases water loss through instant evaporation from the hot day sun. There are manual overrides, which are handy in providing your lawn – or even just one property zone – a cool drink of water on a hot day. On that note, it’s good to keep in mind that activating sprinklers for a longer period of time greatly increases the amount of water run-off. To avoid this, break up long watering times into shorter, more frequent bursts so water can be properly absorbed into soil and nearby roots.
Also, note that changing seasons call for changing water schedules. The irrigation required in mid-summer will be far more than the amount needed in spring or fall. By regularly adjusting watering schedules, the system is able to avoid overwatering lawns, plants, and trees. Smart controllers can automatically make seasonal adjustments – and when watering advice is needed, the turf experts at Heinen are always available to help.
Keeping your irrigation system in peak operating condition will also keep water usage down. Make it part of a weekly routine to make a lap around the yard to double-check that all sprinkler heads are working properly and that there are no leaks. If you notice pooling water around your yard or odd spray patterns from sprinkler heads, contact Heinen right away for evaluation and possible adjustments.
The best part of your new irrigation system? The dollar-savings bonus that comes along with a water-conscious sprinkler system. When you use less water for irrigation, you’ll certainly witness a drop in your water bill each month! An efficient irrigation system used effectively makes most of Heinen’s clients feel great – because they’re helping the planet and saving money at the same time!