According to Columbia University (CU) and The Earth Institute, an overwhelming 30 to 60% of freshwater in urban areas goes to watering lawns. That is largely unnecessary. “Most of this water is wasted due to poor timing and application,” CU elaborates.
Thankfully, it is possible to nip this problem in the bud. Purdue University suggests two possible courses of action. The first, called the revolutionary solution, is to change the types of grass that make up our lawns and use more eco-friendly options, like xeriscaping and natural landscaping instead. Implementing this change will take time, and implementing it across the nation may take years. What can we do in the meantime? Is there an equally effective, immediate solution?
The other course of action Purdue suggests is described as the evolutionary approach. The evolutionary approach involves taking individual, practical actions to reverse this trend. A practical action that makes a tremendous difference is installing residential lawn irrigation systems.
The benefits of residential lawn irrigation systems do not stop there. Residential lawn irrigation systems conserve water, lower your water bill, save you time, and prevent weeds and diseases. Enjoy all the perks of a quality irrigation system by installing one near your home. Follow these steps to make it happen.
Find An Appropriate Water Source
Before installing an irrigation system to water your lawn, ask yourself where your water comes from. Know the source of the water you use. Determine whether you use city-supplied water — also called a public water system — or well water. If you live in an urban area or the suburbs, it is very likely that your water comes from a public water system. Just how common are public water systems? There are “approximately 155,693 public water systems in the United States,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To use a public water system, make certain to route your irrigation through outdoor plumbing or plumbing as close to the exterior of your home as possible. If your system is attached to plumbing snaked throughout the house, it is likely to make an undue amount of noise whenever you use it.
If you live in a rural area or an area that is relatively secluded or out of the way, chances are you depend on well water. Well water remains a common and necessary phenomenon. In fact, there are 15.9 million water wells nationwide, according to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA). Like public water systems, you can use your well as a water source for residential lawn irrigation systems. There are some things you need to know in order to do it properly, however.
First, know the relative size and capacity of your well. Wells work by collecting groundwater in a tank, and that tank only holds so much water. It is possible to talk to contractors about well drilling and installing a larger well if necessary. These measurements and talks are far preferable to the alternative. If you just hope for the best and do not have enough water to power your irrigation system, that can lead to trouble — trouble like overheating and system failure. “If your system attempts to draw more water once the tank is empty, air is drawn into the pump which can result in overheating and eventual breakdown,” SF Gate writes.
Another thing to be mindful of is water pressure. Wells use a pump to push water through your pipes at a particular water pressure. Irrigation systems often require higher pressure than the other fixtures in your home, like sinks, faucets, and showers. Use a separate pump to power irrigation systems with the necessary water pressure.
A trusted plumbing service can help should problems occur. Take proactive steps to keep residential lawn irrigation systems, whether they draw their water from public systems or wells, running at their best for as long as possible.
Find a Contractor
After you pinpoint the water source you will be using and the particular of using that source, it is time to hire a contractor to walk you through the irrigation installations process.
Installing residential lawn irrigation systems can be a relatively involved process. It involves planning the layout of the system and mapping out coverage areas, clearing away debris, breaking ground, properly connecting the system, testing the system, and programming it. After installation, irrigation systems require ongoing maintenance and regular inspections.
Residential lawn irrigation systems are not as straightforward as they might seem, particularly when it comes to planning them. Homeowners have a considerable list of decisions to make, like what kind of sprinkler head will you use? It is also necessary to determine the spacing between sprinkler heads, the application rates of your system, and the distribution system.
Sprinkler heads may spray, emitting a steady mist of water. Others rotate in one direction and then the other for the most consistent watering.
Spacing can be determined by the flow of water and the specifications of your landscape. A sprinkler head that emits a continual mist of water, for example, typically sprays most water near its base and a finer mist at the edges of its coverage area. Contractors will discuss potential design schemes with you, like triangle and square spacing options, to help determine what layout or layouts are most likely to reach all parts of your lawn.
“Sprinklers are selected according to output volume, or gallons per minute (gpm), and wetted diameter (feet),” The University of Georgia writes. That may sound like a lot of technical jargon to you. The good news is that, when you work with a quality contractor, they map out the specifics, including output volume, for you.
Finally, a distribution system may include traditional spraying or misting or a drip system — one that slowly drips water onto your lawn or chosen plants to conserve the most possible water.
All of this planning may amount to nothing if your lawn is full of vegetation, plants, or if it is particularly bumpy or off-level. For excessive debris removal or to level off your landscape, the next step is to contact a landscaping service for an estimate.
Clear Away Cumbersome Plants, Trees, And Debris
As previously mentioned, residential lawn irrigation systems cannot go forward without adequate land to do it. Simply put, yards riddled with weeds, trees, and roots are not ready for your new sprinkler system.
Tree roots can be pervasive. While some vegetation and roots may be curtailed with routine root pruning, other problems you run into when you break ground may not be so easily resolved.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst reveals that trees often consist of much, much more than we can see aboveground. “Tree roots can travel a distance away from the trunk, over two-and-a-half times the height of the tree, and that over 85% of the root growth occurs within 18 inches of the soil surface,” UMass continues. In other words, large trees are often incompatible with residential lawn irrigation systems. Contact tree removal companies to discuss your options.
Another alternative is to use horizontal drilling or trench-free drilling when installing residential lawn irrigation systems. Ask irrigation system installers whether trench-free drilling is a suitable option for your yard.
Install The System
Once you have properly prepped the landscape, it is time to do the thing. During this step, contractors will mark the locations of sprinkler heads and pipes for the irrigation system, access the waterline or water source, remove sod, dig, prepare pipes for installation, and lay out plumbing.
When that is complete, professionals will install sprinkler heads. Finally, they will wrap things up by installing the controller and teaching you how to operate it. This tutorial will teach you how to make any final connections to the water line or water source, test the system, turn individual sprinkler heads on and off, and manipulate the length and timing of waterings.
While You’re At It, Spruce Up Your Yard
Tree removal may be a necessary concession to make for quality residential lawn irrigation systems. Removing trees from your lawn does not have to be a wholly bad thing. Yes, it enables you to install an irrigation system, but it opens up other possibilities, too. Removing trees can protect your home from hazards, save you money, and make room for other projects.
Unfortunately, trees, especially large or old trees, can threaten the structural integrity of your home. Trees that are located too close to your home can become a hazard in the event of high winds, lightning, or heavy snow. If tree limbs are hanging over your roof or suspended near it, they can pose a hazard, potentially breaking off or falling and collapsing onto your home. High wind and lightning increase the likelihood of this hazard. Heavy snow builds up on tree limbs, making them impossibly heavy and liable to break.
Residential lawn irrigation systems and tree removal save you considerable money. They stand to increase your home’s value by as much as 15%, and they drive down your water bill by using less water than manual watering.
Properly irrigated lawns are beautiful lawns. Grass and plants are greener and more vibrant. Removing trees does not just make way for irrigation pipes. It also makes way for other features you may have previously looked over, features like residential fencing.
Residential fencing spruces up the appearance of your home. It can also provide noise protection as well as additional privacy. While fences may not have been possible with trees or deep roots potentially obstructing them, tree removal frees up that option for you.
Maintaining Your Irrigation System
Residential lawn irrigation systems require ongoing care and maintenance. Without it, your system may fail, your bills may increase, and you may waste far too much water. “A household with an automatic landscape irrigation system that isn’t properly maintained and operated can waste up to 25,000 gallons of water annually,” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains. Maintenance can avoid all of these complications.
Don’t know where to start? Here is a checklist for your reference.
- Regularly testing irrigation systems. Every few months, it is wise to run your sprinkler system and carefully monitor it while it’s running. Keep an eye out for any signs of trouble. Clean and unclog any malfunctioning sprinkler heads, and replace them if they continue to run improperly. Repair leaky lines by tightening fasteners or, for minor imperfections, using PVC tape.
- Double-check sprinkler head alignment. Everyday actions can jolt or push sprinkler heads out of alignment. Sprinkler heads may be moved when you mow the lawn, rake leaves, or walk back and forth in your yard. Properly aligning them is often as simple as manually turning the structure. Twisting sprinkler heads back into place turns them away from sidewalks, driveways, and other trajectories that waste water.
- Adjust the controls. In many locations, different seasons require different amounts of watering. Adjust your residential lawn irrigation systems accordingly. During the especially cool winter months, plants require less water. Similarly, spring or summer rainy seasons require less water as well. By contrast, the hottest summer months and dry fall months necessitate more water output.
- Calibrate your system. Without routine calibration, you may be using too much water, which wastes water, time, and money. Calibration reconfigures your system and prevents that waste. Some homeowners tackle this process on their own, while others hire a professional to get the job done.
Carefully maintaining residential lawn irrigation systems will greatly reduce your need for emergency plumbing repair, but it may not eliminate it altogether. Things happen. Keep the number of an emergency plumber handy just in case.
Alternatives to irrigation systems are time-consuming or expensive. Watering your lawn by hand takes a lot of time and patience. Hiring someone else to do it adds up quickly.
With a quality irrigation system, you can save time, money, and do your part to reduce waste and help save the planet.
What’s more, you can do it all with discretion. You can have a perfectly manicured lawn without your neighbors being any wiser of your complex and hard-working irrigation system. Many homeowners choose to water their lawns in the early hours of the morning before they wake up and before their neighbors wake up, too.