Friday, October 02, 2015

Improve Your Irrigation Efficiency AND Save Water and $$

It is a broad generality that most home owners and commercial property managers over water both gardens and specially turf areas.  We are not speaking about the events around establishing the area where extra water may be needed, but once the area is established.

Ideally, water needs to be available at 100 - 150mm below the surface, and there are irrigation systems that deliver water to that specification eg KISSS systems  see

But there is usually a lot that can be done with existing overhead sprinkler systems before committing to a major retrofit.

Less frequent but longer irrigation periods are a first option, but often the period itself can be reduced.  And it is not set and forget either - adjust both of these as seasons change, with naturally more water required in hot dry periods than cooler and damp seasons.  And remember to irrigate early morning or early evening, when winds are lower as are temperatures.  Adjusting droplet size and pressure may also be possible and that will improve efficiency too.

And do not forget to adjust the watering systems to avoid watering the hard surfaces where possible.  Grass will not grow in concrete...........except weeds in cracks!

Even raising mowing height will help save water. 

Using a rainstop or similar device to override the irrigation turning on is a very sensible option, as this prevents scheduled irrigation occurring if there has been rain.  Surely it is sensible to not irrigate if it is not needed.  Rainstop is a commercial Australian product used in commercial systems, but there are proprietary systems from major commercial brands.

While these save money, there is a cost to fit them.

But the bigger advantage is the health improvements to your turf or garden areas - with the first and most notable change likely to be reduced sedges in turf areas, an outcome driven by the drier surface conditions that help reduce these problem weeds.  While sedges can be controlled with appropriate herbicides, they are not an instant fix [ maybe 12 -18 months to clean up an area] and really need to be used once irrigation regimes are adjusted, not before.

All of the above changes do not necessarily reduce the aesthetics of your lawn.  Even a small amount of slow release fertiliser can help by improving the root systemof the turf species and thus extracting more water from depth{"page":38,"issue_id":271411}

California is experiencing severe drought - somewhat similar to the experience in temperate Australia a few years ago, and this article [ link shown above] gives an overview of experiences there with improved irrigation management.

In north Australia with somewhere around 70% of water used outdoors, it is a very practical and relatively east option to save water used outdoors.  Give it a go!  Your garden and lawn area will benefit! 

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