Across the nation, people in the irrigation industry have been celebrating July as “Smart Irrigation Month” and showcasing various technologies that improve the efficiency of outdoor water usage. According to the EPA, the average family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is outdoors. It is estimated that as much as half of that water used outdoors is wasted due to inefficient irrigation.
Indeed, even this blogger has vivid memories of growing up in a home with lush outdoor gardens that were constantly being watered by my mother, who simply moved hoses around all day (or instructed me and my siblings to do it). “Time to move the hoses,” was a constant call from one side of the house to the other. In the hot Louisiana climate, this was a near-daily occurrence throughout the majority of the year. Many of our neighbors had similar habits. Practices like this are likely what drove the industry to find a better way.
Benefits of Smart Irrigation
Smart irrigation techniques not only protect the community water supply, but offer multiple additional benefits to individuals. First of all, depending upon your municipality and water source, reducing your water usage can have a major affect on your utility bill. You can also improve the look of your yard by watering at the right times — not to mention the added convenience of automation.
Do-It-Yourself Smart Irrigation Techniques
Here are some simple ideas on improving your home irrigation.
- Break your yard into zones that have different irrigation needs due to shade, slope or sun exposure.
- Make sure the water is always aimed at the plants — never a driveway, walkway, building or deck.
- Water in the early morning and/or late evening, when the most water will be absorbed without evaporating.
- Water plants more often for shorter periods of time, which will allow the soil to better absorb the water.
- Adjust water times and amounts to seasonal conditions.
Smart Irrigation Technology
The official term “smart irrigation” typically relates to underground sprinkler systems that incorporate computerized technologies like soil moisture sensors, rain sensors, fertilizer injectors, programmable timers and smartphone apps. However, there are multiple other technologies on the market today that can improve both efficiency and ecological responsibility.
- Water-Harvesting Permeable Paver Systems – Providing multiple ecological benefits, permeable pavers reduce flooding and pooling, filter rainwater to reduce pollution and can be outfitted with an underground cistern to capture and reuse rainwater. Some municipalities offer tax incentives or rebates for installing these types of permeable paver driveways or paver patios.
- Rain Barrels – Many municipalities offer tax incentives or even offer free rain barrel programs. These barrels capture the water from your gutter downspouts for you to reuse for irrigation. Many big box stores, like Lowe’s and Walmart, offer a wide variety of barrels to choose from.
- Solar-Powered Sprinkler Timers – Reduce both water and electricity usage by using renewal solar power to irrigate your gardens. These systems are available from numerous retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s.