The Benefits of Efficient Irrigation

April 6, 2015

These days, we all want to save money on everything that we can. Utilities are no exception! One of the benefits of efficient irrigation is the lower number you’ll see on the water bill every month. Plus as you already know, here in the desert, water is a precious commodity. We all want to do our part to conserve it! This article will help you set up an efficient irrigation system for your land so that your plants and animals get the water they need and nothing more—so you aren’t wasting any more H2O (and money).

Read on for water-saving irrigation tips and techniques.

Irrigation Techniques

Did you know that over half of household water use goes to your landscape? Efficient irrigation of your lawn and garden will help you cut down on how much water you use, while still keeping plants healthy.

Hand watering

The simplest and easiest way to control how much water you use is by using a hose with a nozzle or portable sprinkler. While watering, pay attention to the absorption of water into the soil. Once water stops being absorbed, the plant should have enough water so you can move on. An hour after watering, use a soil probe or screwdriver to measure how deep the water penetrated the soil. For small plants, the depth should be one foot, 10 inches for grass, two feet for larger plants and shrubs, and three feet for trees.

Sprinkler system

To save some time watering the lawn, a sprinkler system is your best bet. It can cover large areas in one session, and you can set it to go on and off with an automatic system. The key to efficient sprinklers is to water no more than an inch of water at a time. One inch is enough to soak the soil deep enough to reach the roots of your grass.

Use the can test to measure how much water your sprinklers supply: Place several shallow-bottomed cans on the lawn four to five feet apart, turn on the sprinklers for 15 minutes, then measure the depth of water in each can with a ruler. Add the measurements together and divide by the number of cans. The result is the number of inches your sprinkler system applies in 15 minutes. Adjust the timer accordingly.

Though the automatic sprinkler system is convenient, you still need to monitor it and change settings depending on the weather. The best time to have it run is early in the morning before the sun comes up, so less water is lost to evaporation. During monsoon season or a freak rain storm such as the ones we had here in Arizona last summer, make sure you turn off the sprinkler system. Over-watering can be just as bad as for plants as under-watering!

Drip irrigation

Drip irrigation is an efficient watering technique. Using small plastic pipes, water is applied slowly, right at the plant’s roots where it’s needed the most. Drip irrigation prevents wasted water from evaporation or runoff because it is slow and controlled. Just like with automatic sprinklers, monitor your drip system and adjust it for the rainy monsoon season as needed. Drip systems are best for free-standing plants and gardens.

A few additional benefits of drip systems:

  • Prevents disease
  • Reduces weed growth
  • Saves time and water
  • Requires less work and maintenance

Drip irrigation systems are simple and inexpensive to install. You’ll need tubing, a y-shaped connector, emitters, hose end timer, backflow device, pipe cutter, tubing stakes, goof plug, and hose end. A lawn & garden expert at Shoppers Supply can help you find what you need and explain how to get your system installed and running.

Tools to help you save money

Nozzle

Use a nozzle with your hose when watering by hand for proper flow of water onto your plants. There’s a wide variety of different hoses, and they usually cost less than $20. The basic type is the pistol-shaped nozzle with a trigger that you squeeze to control the flow and force of water. Another kind is the cylindrical nozzle with different spray patterns, controlled by twisting the barrel. Which one you choose will depend on your personal preference. For newly-planted seeds, use a watering wand. This nozzle waters gently with a cascading shower, which is also good for hanging plants.

Timer

A timer will help you to water efficiently and can be used with all of the techniques above. There are many different kinds of timers ranging from very simple to high-tech. Three questions to ask yourself when deciding what type of timer to buy are:

  1. Do you want to mount it outside or keep it indoors?
  2. How many watering zones does your landscape have?
  3. What features are most important to you (seasonal self-adjustment, self-diagnostics, battery backup in case of power outage, rain sensor)?

If installing the timer outside, place it in the garage, a covered patio, a shed, or a side of the house that’s convenient. Program the timer to water different areas appropriately. For example, you may want to water the lawn every day and water the garden every other day. Choose a timer that has at least two programs.

Rain Sensor

A rain sensor is a great addition to your automatic sprinkler system. They are designed to override and shut off the automatic irrigation system when your landscape has received enough rainfall. The sensor should be installed as close to the system controller as possible, in an open area.

Rain Barrel

A rain barrel collects rainfall from downpours. The water is free and can be used for container plants and gardens. Use one that has a fitted screen to prevent mosquitoes.

You’re ready to get started on efficient irrigation!

For all of your efficient irrigation supplies, come on into Shoppers Supply! We have everything you need to install water-saving sprinkler systems that will help you save money. Plus our friendly staff is available to answer any questions you have or help you find what you need. Visit our Chandler or Apache Junction location today!