Sound lawn sprinkler strategies: protect your landscape investment

By Dave Heinen of Heinen Landscape & Irrigation
Kansas City Gardener

We had scheduled to write about the landscape design/build process this month. However, I decided based upon the amount of positive feedback we received after our April article on “Sprinkler Systems and Hiring a Professional Contractor” that subject warranted a follow up article.

So, now that you have turned on your automatic sprinkler system or have just been trained about the new system you had installed, how are things working? Are your plants growing and thriving, as you would expect?

Protecting Your Investment

Installing an automatic sprinkler system protects your landscape investment. This is the primary reason for installing a system.

Different plants and turf grass have vastly different watering requirements. You’ll want to make sure zones separate the different types of plant materials. For example, turf in full sun may require, by its exposure and type of soil, watering three times per week. On the other hand, shrub beds on the north side of your home in the shade may only require watering one time per week. You’ll want to make sure you have compatible areas or zones programmed for the kind of turf or plant material in each zone.

Water Cost

Ultimately, water cost is an issue – you want to protect the environment, conserve this natural resource and protect your checkbook. In my April article, I mentioned a reputable contractor with expertise in installing and repairing irrigation systems will do a number of key things to determine your needs and to develop the right sprinkler system for you. One of those things includes: designing a system to achieve “matched precipitation” in each zone.

Now what exactly is matched precipitation? Matched precipitation means each sprinkler head in a zone “matches” the other ones in the zone and puts down the same amount of water in all areas of the zone.

Having “matched” precipitation provides a way to ensure you will achieve your watering goals, conserve this natural resource and avoid wasteful, costly water bills. For example, if you desire to water no more than one inch of water per week in a zone, you will have confidence you can meet that goal.

Flexible and Adjustable Programming

Many landscapes installed in Kansas and Missouri have more native type plant material indigenous to the area and thus have more relaxed watering requirements than plant material such as roses, azaleas and rhododendrons. I recommend you divide your sprinkler system zones to have control over each of these different types of plant materials. Newer technology in sprinkler controllers allow for multiple programs and down to the minute programming to help you control the amount of water usage.

Repairs

If you had a system installed, be sure to receive a visual drawing (also known as an “as built”). This drawing will save you cost for future repairs.

If you have to call an irrigation contractor to make adjustments or repairs you can typically expect to pay a service call fee, an hourly rate for labor and for any parts used to make the necessary repairs. To keep expenses to a minimum, hire an experienced contractor and show them your “as built”. You’ll save money in the amount of time it will require to diagnose the problem and make the repair and the as built will help the contractor quickly gain experience with your system.