Watering with a Firehose: Solutions

In a perfect world, you have the resources to start from the beginning with the design phase of your irrigation system, whether your landscape is installed or not, and create a water system that both creates a foundation for very healthy plants and uses as little water as possible to do so. 

It is irrelevant whether your end goal is to put more money in your pocket each month by lowering your water bill (and other bills which I will talk about in following posts), or to be a responsible steward of the beautiful Earth that we have be given.  You kill two birds with one stone by implementing strategies for a sustainable landscape in your Outdoor Living Spaces and flower beds.

Utlimately, a healthy landscape that is properly watered will bring more savings to you than a lower water bill.  In Utah, it is actually quite difficult to save much money by lowering your water bill because the water is so inexpensive.  But there are several other benefits that will affect your pocketbook which, as I already mentioned, I will discuss in subsequent posts.

For now, focus on proper watering because the factor that most affects the health of your plants is the soil and you can’t do much of anything in Utah to change the soil, but you can water properly, which is the second most important factor in the health of your landscape.

So whether you have the resources to start from scratch or you only plan to make small adjustments over a long period of time, you can make a difference and be more responsible while saving money.

First, I would like to include the links to all of the posts about application types here below so you can easily reference them if you have questions.

Watering with a Firehose: Introduction
Watering with a Firehose: Sprays
Watering with a Firehose: Rotors
Watering with a Firehose: Impacts
Watering with a Firehose: Drip Emitters
Watering with a Firehose: Dripline

My expert advice on how to start making changes is listed here below, in no particular order:

  • Do not mix different types of water applications on one zone (spray heads with impacts and dripline or drip emitters with spray heads are the most common) unless you are mixing dripline and emitters with the same precipitation rate (gallons per hour).  Each type of application has a different precipitation rate and the end result is typically watering one part of the zone with a firehose and drying out the rest.
  • Water lawn areas with impact heads if possible.  If you are starting from scratch, design your lawn areas to be large enough to use impact heads.  These are the most efficient heads out there for broadcast-type (sprays, rotors, and impacts) watering.  If you can’t water with impacts, use rotors, and if the area is smaller than 15′, water with spray heads and use nozzles that have matched precipitation for sure.
  • When you discover a dry spot in the lawn, check for broken or crooked heads and to see if the right nozzles are being used.  The answer is not to just add a spray head in the center of the dry spot!  Discover the problem.  If you need help, call me!
  • Water perennials, shrubs and trees with drip emitters.  Put the water only where it is needed.  Drip emitters are the absolute best way to water permanent plantings that are not ground cover. 
  • Water annual plantings with spray heads.  I would recommend impact or rotor heads for annuals, but the flower beds are usually too small for these latter two types of application.  Run the lines for the heads around the borders of the bed so that the soil can be dug and tilled when changing out the flowers.  Annuals are ideally watered with drip also, but the constant working of the soil around annuals makes it difficult to maintain a working drip system.
  • Water groundcover with dripline.  Create the grid discussed in the post on driplines and plant in between the lines.  The plants will take some time to fill in and cover the unsightly lines, but it is worth the time investment.  I have seen lawns watered with a dripline system in northern Colorado and be very efficient, but I have yet to see someone take the dripline plunge for their lawn in Utah.  Look for this in the near future.  It is more costly up front, but makes up for it in the bill, lack of maintenance and health of the lawn.
  • If you can not make large adjustments to your system, consider changing nozzles to make sure they are all matched precipitation as discussed in the previous posts.
  • Also, you can convert the watering system for permanent plantings to drip.  Focus on one area at a time to keep cost and labor down.
  • Divide valves that water lawn and flower beds by adding a new valve and capping heads or changing  the radius of the head that is watering the flower bed also.  Your perennials, shrubs and trees will love you for the adjustment.

Whatever small or large adjustments you make, keep in mind that the health of your plants will improve given enough time, but you should be able to see an immediate change in your water bill.  Please remember that making all of these adjustments is completely null and void if you do not make the effort to set your irrigation clock correctly!

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