21 AUG 2020
7 Tips for Better Landscape Irrigation
Here are a number of tips to make your commercial landscape irrigation more efficient. For large corporate offices and facilities, landscape irrigation often represents a huge percentage of total water use - as much as 30% of your water bill. Healthy, well-maintained plants can completely change the aesthetic of your company campus and shape how people feel when they see your buildings.
And it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune in monthly water bills.
Here's where to start improving your landscape irrigation and lowering your corporate water bill.
1. Use native plants
When it comes to landscaping, one of the best ways to save water is to select plants that are most adapted to your local climate. You can certainly use plants that come from other regions with similar climates, but native plants will always be the most adapted to where you live. They already grow and thrive in your ecosystem without constant human maintenance, so they’re naturally going to need less water than plants that have adapted to live somewhere else.
It’s tempting to simply choose plants you like, but if they’re not adapted to your environment, they’ll either require a lot more water to survive, or your natural rainfall could overwater and drown them. In the US, we use “plant hardiness zones” to identify which plants are most adapted to which climates. You can find your plant hardiness zone by entering your zip code here. Then choose plants that work well in your zone.
2. Water deeply and infrequently
Plants react to how you water them. Their root systems grow to maximize their ability to absorb the water that’s available to them. If you water them frequently and shallowly, they’ll concentrate their roots near the surface to get as much water as they can. But if you water infrequently and give the water a chance to fully penetrate the soil, your plants will grow deeper roots to absorb the water below, making them hardier and more resistant to potential droughts. The deeper soil takes longer to dry out, so your plants have more time to absorb it, and less of your overall watering will be lost to evaporation.
3. Monitor your water use
If you aren’t paying attention to your water meters, you may not notice leaks or other problems with your irrigation system until they show up on your water bill. A water audit is a helpful starting point for learning how much water various processes typically use. You can manually check your water meter, but that requires you to compare your readings to typical patterns in your water usage.
Apana’s water efficiency as a service platform tracks your water usage in real-time and compares it to your historical use, analyzing your water infrastructure for thousands of potential failure points. Whenever Apana detects a problem, you get an instant alert and we’ll walk you through how to fix it. So if there’s a problem with your landscape irrigation, you can correct it quickly.
4. Group plants based on their water needs
Some plants require soil that’s constantly damp. Others have to be completely dry before the next watering. You may need to water them more frequently or for longer periods. Whenever possible, group plants based on the frequency and duration that you’ll need to water them. This keeps your irrigation system as simple as possible. Your landscaping or maintenance crew doesn’t need to create complicated watering schedules, and it’s easier to coordinate your smart irrigation system.
5. Consider changing your soil
Soil type can significantly impact irrigation. Clay-like soil retains water for much longer and can increase the risk of overwatering, and soil with finer particles (like sand or loam) gives you faster, deeper penetration. So your irrigation schedule needs to account for both the plant being watered and what kind of soil it’s located in. Whenever you plant new shrubs, trees, or flowers, make sure your soil is suited to the plants you’ve selected, and consider bringing in soil that gets better drainage.
6. Don’t just settle for a smart irrigation system
Smart irrigation systems help facilities save water by automating the process of watering your plants. They generally adjust to the weather to prevent your system from watering during the rain. They make your irrigation far more efficient, but there’s a big problem, too: most smart irrigation systems aren’t actually that smart. They can’t tell when something goes wrong.
If a sprinkler head is broken, a hose or pipe has a hole, or a valve is leaking, your smart irrigation system will keep pumping out water like clockwork, and you won’t know there’s an issue until you get the bill. Some problems are more subtle, too. Pipes can get corrosion or scaling, and they can freeze. And that can waste a lot of water and cause some big problems if you don’t detect the problem and shut things down fast.
For that, you need real-time water efficiency as a service.
7. Avoid surface irrigation as much as possible
“Surface irrigation” is basically manual watering. When someone has to physically water your plants, it significantly increases the odds that they’ll be watered unevenly. Parts of your landscaping may get overwatered, while others get underwatered. Not to mention, you’re paying someone to perform a task you could automate.
Ideally, you are using drip irrigation for shrub and flower beds. These small hoses are easy to conceal with beauty bark or mulch, so they don’t disrupt your aesthetics, and they help ensure water gets evenly distributed.
Get Water Efficiency as a Service
Water management doesn’t have to be complicated. Our platform watches your water usage 24/7 and lets you know if there’s anything abnormal. A single water-related disaster could cost your company thousands of dollars. We help you detect and solve problems before they show up on your water bill.
Collectively, our clients save hundreds of millions of gallons of water every year.