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Wonderful Water

Wonderful Water …From the pages of House & Home…

An irrigation system can deliver that lush lawn you’ve been dreaming about.

If a lush, green lawn is important to you, then an irrigation system is an investment you may want to consider. Although a system can be costly up front, in the long run, a professional sprinkler system can not only save you time but can also save you money.

“An irrigation system is going to preserve your landscape investment and maintain the curb appeal of your property,” says Ray Cole, a landscape design consultant with Elite Landscaping. “Green grass and a healthy landscape speak volumes when people are looking to buy a home in your neighborhood.”

Of course, having a system installed also saves you time and labor. Watering your own landscape by hand is time consuming, even if you’re utilizing a hose sprinkler, which has to be periodically moved.

“When you’re leaving your hose running on a small sprinkler, you have to move the unit every 10 minutes or so,” says Kevin Shackleford, president of Shackleford Landscape Group, LLC. “People are busy and they find their time very valuable. They don’t have the time to sit around and move a sprinkler.”

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Not to mention you’re not getting even or accurate coverage with a hose sprinkler, Shackleford adds. It’s hard to know exactly where the watering is happening, but it certainly isn’t being evenly distributed.

“With an irrigation system, it’s programmed with timing for zones to ensure that a particular amount of water is being distributed evenly throughout the lawn,” Shackleford explains. “You remove the human error with the programming. If one area is getting too much water or another area is drying out too quickly, it’s adjusted appropriately.”

An irrigation system can also make it easier to make improvements to your lawn and landscape, adds Ken Scherer of Hillsborough Irrigation & Landscape Services. That can also help save you money in the long run.

“For instance,” says Scherer, “many people who do not have an irrigation system end up spending time and money every fall trying to revive and reseed areas of their lawn that have died over the hot, dry summer.”

Water savings
While an irrigation system can pack a lot of benefits, water savings is probably the most significant. The latest technology makes these systems increasingly efficient so that they’re able to water the lawn with less waste of this precious resource.

“A professionally designed and installed irrigation system is much more efficient than watering with a garden hose and portable sprinkler,” Scherer says. “The newest Smart Controllers, sprinkler heads, spray nozzles, drip irrigation and weather-sensing systems have increased water conservation efforts.”

Shackleford agrees and says that the weather-sensing technology is a huge advancement.

“With rain sensors installed, the system will know not to come on if it’s raining out,” Shackleford explains. “As a result, you’re not watering your lawn twice and being wasteful. Homeowners can also have a soil moisture sensor installed which will tell them if one area is too dry.”

Of course not all systems are designed to be water efficient, Cole points out. “A water efficient system has minimal overspray on hard surface areas and includes rain sensors to monitor rainfall,” Cole says. “Proper monitoring of the system to adjust watering in conjunction with the time of year is also important. There should be less watering during spring and fall and more during times of drought in the summer. Finally, a system must be properly maintained on an annual basis.”

For homeowners who are operating older systems, a retrofit might be worth considering. With all of the new technology available, upgrading to a more efficient system could be worth it in the long run.

A variety of options
While there aren’t different types of systems—just different types of applications and materials—you do need to find an irrigation contractor who can help install what’s best for your property. For instance, Cole says a system may have large heads for large turf areas, small pop-up heads for the planting beds around your home, and drip irrigation in very small areas.

“Drip irrigation is definitely a growing trend since it is very water efficient,” Cole continues. “Drip irrigation was first developed in Israel because of the dry conditions and rapid evaporation of water from the surface. Drip irrigation is buried just under the surface of the soil. The downside is that plants need a bath to wash off pollutants that are heavy in our area of the country. Therefore, above- ground spray heads may be less efficient but more beneficial to your landscape.”

These are the kinds of points that can be discussed with a professional irrigation contractor. However, Scherer warns that there is a cardinal sin often committed in the irrigation industry. Homeowners should watch that their contractor is not mixing spray heads and rotors in the same zone.

“Spray heads and rotors deliver the water at very different rates so they should not be on the same zone,” Scherer says. “Spray zones should run for 15 to 20 minutes while rotor zones should run for 30 to 40 minutes. How can these two very different sprinkler heads run for the same time without overwatering or under watering an area? The answer is they can’t. Make sure your contractor does not mix them. When they do, they are cheating you and the efficiency of your new system.”

RESOURCES

Elite Landcaping
Berlin, N.J.
(856) 753-1944
EliteLandscaping.com

Hillsborough Irrigation & Landscape Design
Belle Mead, N.J.
(908) 359-1898
HillsboroughIrrigation.com

Shackleford Landscape Group, LLC
Bear, Del.
(302) 883-9602
SLGLandscaping.com

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 15, Issue 12 (June, 2015).
For more info on House & Home magazine, click here.
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Author: Lindsey Getz

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