Throughout the growing season, water plays a vital role in the health of your commercial landscape.
Whether the weather is rainy or dry, how you control and utilize the water that falls on your property or that you distribute via irrigation can have a significant impact on the health of your trees and plants.
This is especially true during unseasonably dry seasons that heighten the need for irrigation. When water usage becomes a concern, irrigation efficiency becomes the game that property managers play during water restrictions. This is where using smarter strategies like xeriscaping, sustainable landscaping, and smart irrigation systems can help.
Let’s talk about water management plans and the best ways to maximize irrigation efficiency to ensure you have the best strategies at hand.
Water Management Audit: Assess Your Commercial Property’s Needs
One good way to improve your irrigation efficiency and water use is by conducting a landscape irrigation audit.
Water management audits can give you insight into the total plant/soil/water balance on your commercial site, determining soil infiltration rates, optimal timing of hydro-zones, precipitation rates for varying types of plant material and how smart technology can benefit your site. This alone can cut your water usage by 30%.
Irrigation audits can also identify system or site problems, such as leaks, pressure issues, dysfunctional components, and poor soil or water quality, allowing you to develop a plan to target areas for improvement by utilizing factual data, rather than just guessing at a solution.
As you go through this process, you’ll also find areas of your commercial site that tend to collect quite a bit of stormwater. By gathering and using this excess water through sustainable solutions like bioswales, rain gardens, and rainwater harvesting, you can save budget dollars and manage water on your property more efficiently.
Develop a Strategy to Improve Water Usage & Irrigation System Efficiency
Once a landscape irrigation audit reveals the watering needs of your commercial property, you can strategically implement a plan.
Typically, there are three types of landscape areas of your site, and they each have different water needs.
- Turf areas, depending on species and location, usually require 1 inch of water weekly - or 25% Volumetric water content. If rainfall doesn’t address this, you can supplement this need with your irrigation system.
- Newly planted trees require up to 20 gallons of water weekly, depending on the surroundings and soil conditions. Trees need to be watered deeply at first to ensure the water passes the roots and promotes strong root development.
- Mature tree roots are able to find water deeper in the soil, and therefore need less water typically.
To meet these needs, your irrigation system can include a mix of sprinklers for large, open areas like turf, and drip or point source irrigation for direct irrigation to tree and shrub roots.
In addition to the correct amount of water, proper timing and zone configuration matters, too. If you water your property during the heat of the day, you’ll lose a lot of that to evaporation, and if you water during the evening, you open your plants up to disease development. Morning watering remains the best time to maximize irrigation efficiency and limit disease activity.
Water Conservation: Keep An Eye On the Sky
The best way to maximize water conservation is to implement smart technology such as soil moisture sensors and intelligent control systems. Additionally, the use of rain sensors will help you avoid embarrassing situations like running your system during rainstorms. Installing rain sensors and soil moisture sensors is necessary to conserve water on your commercial site
Remember, no two locations have the same water requirements. Drier areas in the West and Southwest will have greater irrigation needs than areas in the Northeast and Midwest.
Irrigation Efficiency: Common Sense Rules
“Set it and forget it,” is not the best strategy for commercial irrigation when water conservation is concerned. Everything from rainfall to drought to system malfunctions can disrupt even the best irrigation strategies.
For maximum irrigation efficiency, property managers can use the following tools to make adjustments and realize water savings, as well as save budget dollars:
- Watch the weather, and implement smart control systems paired with sensor technology.
- Monitor your irrigation system daily.
- Understand the watering needs of your varying landscape flora; they’ll tell you what they need.
- Consult with your commercial landscape professional.
In fact, partnering with the right commercial grounds maintenance company can ensure these elements are incorporated into your maintenance plan so you don’t miss a beat.