Join the irrigation industry in celebrating July as Smart Irrigation Month. Smart Irrigation Month is an industry public awareness campaign designed to promote efficient water use. Smart Irrigation Month highlights effective practices and innovative technologies to:

Minimize overwatering while keeping lawns and gardens beautiful and healthy.
Adjust watering automatically to account for rain and other conditions.
Put every drop of water to work by minimizing evaporation and waste.
Make maintaining yards easy and convenient.
Help protect and preserve water supplies for today and the future.

Getting involved in Smart Irrigation Month can be as simple as adding the Smart Irrigation Month logo to your website, ads or newsletters, or highlighting water-saving products during the month of July. Or make it a year round celebration and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to efficient watering practices by:

Planting right.
Watering wisely.
Investing in an irrigation system.
Maintaining and upgrading the system.

 


Planting right

Landscape to suit the lot. Choose grass or plants that have low water requirements and will thrive in your local climate. Consider the lot’s exact features, including sun and shade, dry and damp areas, plant size, and how you plan to use each section of the yard.
Keep soil healthy. Aerating lawns and around trees at least once a year helps improve water penetration. When planting, turn and cultivate the soil and add compost or fertilizer to improve moisture retention and grow healthier plants that need less water to stay strong.
Mulch well around plants, bushes and trees. Using 2 to 4 inches of mulch reduces evaporation, moderates spikes and lows in soil temperatures, improves water penetration and helps control weeds that compete for water.
“Hydro-zone” yards. Grouping plants with similar moisture needs in the same area makes it easier to make sure they get the water they need without overwatering. Separate plants from grassy areas, which have different water requirements.
Plant in spring or fall. Avoid summer, when hotter temperatures mean plants need more water to become established.
Save grass for functional areas. Plant grass in play zones and other areas where it will be used and enjoyed. Instead of planting turf on sleep slopes or other hard-to-water spaces, consider ground cover, perimeter plants or mulch.
Plant shade trees. The shade they cast creates natural “air-conditioning,” lowering air and soil temperatures, and reducing soil moisture loss.
Maintain yards regularly. A well-maintained yard requires less water, so weed, prune and mow as needed.

 


Watering wisely

Get in the zone. Schedule each individual zone in the irrigation system to account for type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and soil in that section. Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.
Consider soil type. Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.
Don’t send water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not driveways, sidewalks, patios or buildings.
Water only when needed. Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.
Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool — typically between the evening and early morning.
Water more often for shorter periods. For example, setting a system to run for three 5-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff.
Adapt watering to the season. Familiarize yourself with the settings on the irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. Or invest in a Smart controller so the system can make these changes automatically.

 


Investing in an irrigation system

Use components that provide flexibility. Different plants have different watering needs, and these needs may change over time. The system should allow you to apply the right amount of water for each type of plant by the most effective method.
Install excess capacity. Irrigation zones are areas that are watered by the same irrigation valve and plumbing. Installing extra connections now makes it easier and less expensive to expand the irrigation system later.
Think Smart. Include Smart controls that automatically adjust watering based on rain, soil moisture, evaporation and plant water use.
Check water pressure. Low or high pressure can seriously affect sprinkler performance; choose sprinklers based on the water pressure on the site.
Buy the best. Use the best components you can afford to minimize future maintenance and total lifetime cost of the system.
Meet code requirements. Include the right backflow prevention device for your area. Required by the National Plumbing Code for all irrigation systems, backflow prevention devices prevent irrigation system water from contaminating the water supply.
Dig deep. Install lines deep enough to protect them from damage from aeration and other lawn maintenance.
Look for savings. Many water utilities offer rebates for certain water-efficient products. Before finalizing a new system, consult with your local water provider.

 


Maintaining and upgrading the system

Inspect the system monthly. Check for leaks, broken or clogged sprinkler heads, and other problems. Clean clogged screens and micro-irrigation filters as needed.
Adjust sprinkler heads. Remove or correct obstructions that prevent sprinklers from distributing water evenly. Adjust sprinkler head positions and spray patterns to avoid watering sidewalks or structures and to provide necessary clearance over growing plants.
Check the pressure. Pressure can change over time and negatively affect system efficiency.
Install a rain shutoff switch. These inexpensive sensors can be retrofitted to almost any system and help compensate for natural rainfall by turning off the system in rainy weather.
Consider “smart” technology. Climate or soil moisture sensor-based controllers evaluate weather or soil moisture conditions and then automatically adjust the irrigation schedule to meet the specific needs of the landscape.
Consider low volume, micro-irrigation for gardens, trees and shrubs. Drip (or trickle) irrigation, micro spray jets, micro-sprinklers and bubbler irrigation all apply a very small amount of water, slowly and precisely, minimizing evaporation, runoff and overspray.
Audit the system. Conduct an irrigation audit and uniformity test to verify areas are being watered evenly and appropriately, and make necessary adjustments.
Look for savings. Many water utilities offer rebates for certain water-efficient products. Before upgrading the new system, consult with your local water provider.
Winterize in colder climates. Flush out water that could freeze and crack pipes, valves and sprinklers.

 


Whether your company is large or small … a manufacturer, distributor, contractor, consultant, municipality… it’s easy to be Smart. The Irrigation Association has a number of free resources available online at www.smartirrigationmonth.org.

Download logos and press release samples.
Visit the Smart Irrigation Month YouTube channel for real-world examples of industry efforts to promote smart irrigation
Participate in the Smart Marketing Contest, which recognizes groups that are promoting Smart Irrigation Month in interesting and compelling ways.
Join the Smart Irrigation Month Thunderclap social media campaign.

 


Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a nonprofit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Visit www.irrigation.org to learn more. Article provided by the Irrigation Association.