With drought and water restrictions affecting more areas, it makes sense to install a sprinkler and landscape irrigation system that will minimize your use of the H2O. Part of the equation, of course, is selecting plants and trees that are either native either to your area or to a climate with similar annual rainfall and seasonal moisture patterns as your area. The other part of the equation is creating the perfect irrigation system. The following tips can help with that.
Tip #1: Start with the soil
Before you invest in a sprinkler system installation, make sure you have good soil in place. If this is new construction with little more than sandy fill, you may find your precious water draining out more quickly than you would like. It's easier to fix the soil before you plant and install sprinkler lines. Dig in a several inch layer of compost and quality topsoil. The top 24 inches of soil is where most plants extract water from, with trees sometimes accessing water from 60 inches down. So 12 to 24 inch depth of quality soil will help maintain the moisture plants need.
Tip #2: Use drip irrigation where possible
For flower and foliage beds, along with shrubs, drip irrigation is your best option. These lines are laid on top of the soil or just beneath the soil surface, with the water emitters sitting right at soil level. This means the water drips out right next to the plants where it can instantly soak into the soil and be sucked up by the roots – with minimal chance of evaporative moisture loss.
Tip #3: Install low profile sprinklers
When water waste is a concern, lower profile sprinklers are a better option. These spray closer to the ground. They don't have as far of a reach as sprinklers that spray higher, though, so you will need to install more sprinkler heads. The benefit of the lower profile is that the water gets into the soil beneath the grass blades more quickly so it is less likely to be lost to evaporation.
Tip #4: Add some mulch
Mulching bare soil over the roots of trees or in a garden bed is another way to slow moisture loss from evaporation. A couple of inches of an organic mulch, like wood chips, goes a long way towards maintaining moisture. Just make sure the mulch doesn't clog any drip-irrigation emitters.
Tip #5: Water on the right schedule
The first key is to set your sprinklers to go off at the right time. Evening or early morning before dawn are the best options, since the water has time to soak into the soil before the sun rises. Next, find out how many inches of water the grass and plants in your yard need weekly on average. Split this number by two or three. So, for example, if your grass needs 3 inches of water a week, plan to provide 1 inch of water three times a week. Turn on your sprinklers and set a measuring cup nearby, then time it to see how long it take to fill with 1 inch of water. This is how long you need to run your sprinklers each time.
For more information, contact Steeplechase or a similar company.