Irrigation systems are one of my favorite components of professional lawn care.
They serve as the lifeline to keep the lawn green during the summer and landscapes alive during the driest and hottest periods of the year.
During the hottest periods of the year; June, July, and August. Water bills can be as much as $500 a month or more to keep the lawn green.
So how do you mitigate these costs?
Here is what I learned.
My Experience With Saving Water in the Lawn
While serving in the landscape industry for over 15 years and running a landscape design and installation company. I learned a lot about irrigation.
Look, I have seen time and time again, instances when homeowners were shell shocked to receive their first water bill after installing an irrigation system.
Fortunately, there are some products available to assist and automate the control panel management. These devices can save you time and water by automatically adjusting your timer to weather changes accordingly.
It has been my experience that the following products help out with the battle in water conservation.
Quick Note: While I have experience with Hunter brand products, other irrigation companies have comparable products.
1. Use a Rain Sensor-
The Hunter mini-click (also known as a rain sensor) is a great way to make your irrigation system more sustainable.
It’s simple, this device prevents your system from watering in the event of rainfall. Typically they are wired directly into the control panel.
Unfortunately, sometimes these simple devices do not work as they should, as spiders build webs, or debris builds up inside of them.
During my tenure in the landscape industry, we would refer to these devices as “service call sensors.”
Our clients that had these sensors installed on their systems always had to call us out to repair or replace them every year or so.
With a cost of about $200 to replace, rain sensors can help but are not a fail-safe option. But they do save money on water bills.
2: Avoid Using a Solar Sync:
Look, in theory, a solar sync product is a great idea; it is designed to read weather activity, temperatures, and rainfall. The device then automatically updates the programming on your control panel to optimize the settings with the current weather patterns. Saving you from overusing water.
In fact, I was excited when this product came out on the market.
Unfortunately, I was quickly disappointed because it does not function as well as it should.
My company installed dozens of Hunter Solar Syncs and sadly had to go back and remove most of them.
In my experience, more often than not, they would malfunction, get confused, and cause the timer to perform all sorts of crazy things.
For example, adjust the time to 3 hours a day per zone and other horror stories.
Simply put, I would not recommend installing a Hunter Solar sync.
3: Install an Irrigation Weather station:
The weather station is an upgrade from a basic rain sensor. This device will measure rainfall and also monitor high wind, and freezing temps and will adjust the control panel to be in sync.
Remarkably, this unit will also shut the system down when temperatures get below 37 degrees.
This will prevent a potentially dangerous situation of ice accumulation over surfaces and prevent damage to your plants.
However, keep in mind when temps get that low, you will want to winterize your irrigation system anyway.
These devices usually cost around $200 to buy and $200 to install.
The return on investment for this device would be 1-2 years depending on the size of your lawn, and is the best option to help automate seasonal adjustments to your control panel to conserve water.
4. Smart Irrigation Technology
A lot has changed since I was in the lawn care industry. And one of the biggest is the advent of smart technology.
Nowadays you can buy smart water meters at Home Depot or Lowes that you can control from your smart phone.
While they may not be as advanced as the rain detector or irrigation water station, they can lead to much more sustainable irrigation.
In fact, lawn care pros can use Zapier in combination with a smart sprinkler to automate all of their clients' sprinkler systems automatically.
While these devices are cheaper than other options. They still have a long way to go to meet professional standards.
The Bottom Line on Sustainable Lawn Irrigation
While there are some interesting devices on the market, there is no “set it and forget it” option.
Whether you are using the best sprinkler on the market, or have a professional irrigation system installed. The best way to perform sustainable irrigation is to be diligent about observing the weather patterns and adjusting the control panel is always needed.
Still, you or your lawn service professional will need to be attentive to the settings in your lawn if you want to conserve water.
One of the best ways to conserve water is to remain vigilant.
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