Automatic irrigation systems have become popular because of convenience, however they do not always translate into improved water efficiency. Many systems use excessive amounts of water due to improper design, installation, and/or maintenance. Irrigation systems that significantly over-water are not uncommon.
According to Landscape Ontario’s Irrigation Sector Group that represents the irrigation industry in Ontario, “Homeowners typically over-water lawns and landscapes by as much as 30%.”
The excess water use or leaks in the system can result in a high water bill and may also cause damage to your plants and property.
So what can you do?
- Ensure your irrigation system receives a regular maintenance checkup to detect problems and avoid leaks.
- Ensure your irrigation contractor is a trained, certified irrigation professional. The Irrigation Association maintains a registry of trained, certified irrigation professionals on their website. Always be sure to check the credentials of a prospective contractor and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ensure your system designer, installation and maintenance contractors are Select Certified Irrigation Association professionals, with training as Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditors. This emphasizes a commitment to efficient water management.
- When looking to hire an irrigation system designer or contractor, ask:
- Does the layout of my system minimize or avoid watering paved surfaces such as the driveway and walkway?
- Does my system have a rain sensor or central controller? What are the benefits of these mechanisms?
- Can I set the system to run twice a week instead of every other day?
- Can you explain to me the benefits of drip irrigation and water pressure-regulated sprinklers?
- Can you explain to me the difference between spray-type and rotary-type sprinkler heads, and where each is most appropriate?
- Does my annual maintenance contract include inspections mid-summer, as well as opening and closing, to check for leaks and broken heads?
- If designing your landscape or garden from scratch, consider that the layout, turf coverage and plant choice should be designed with irrigation needs in mind. This helps minimize over-watering and maximize efficiency.
About this guest blogger:
Kathy McAlpine Sims is responsible for Halton Region’s Water Efficiency Program, which encourages wise water use through various initiatives such as Residential Toilet Rebates, Annual Rain Barrel Truckload Sales, and the Halton Children’s Water Festival.