Reprogramming Irrigation

concentrations of potentially corrosive chemicals, grit, and debris suspended in the non-potable water are being developed. Improvements have been made to the filtering systems, baffles, screening applications, pumping systems, and controls.

Several irrigation products currently on the market with more to come may affect the efficiency of the irrigation design. The following products are several examples of new technologies.

  • New pressure-regulating devices help maintain consistent water pressure. For every 5 pounds per square inch in reduced water pressure, water consumption is reduced by 6 to 8 percent.
  • High-efficiency nozzles provide a more uniform distribution of water, and can help eliminate overspray. Check-valves prevent water from draining out of the low sprinkler heads.
  • Drip tubing, drip emitters, and direct root-watering equipment apply water slowly and directly to the root systems of plants, again using less water than a conventional sprinkler irrigation system.
  • Smart irrigation controllers use soil-moisture sensors, rain sensors, and ET-based technology to adjust schedules based on the specific site requirements and variable site conditions.

Irrigation For The Location

Even with all of the new irrigation technologies in place, water savings cannot be maintained without proper design, installation, and ongoing maintenance. With yesterday’s irrigation controllers, the time, day, and run cycles were set, and they ran as scheduled until someone decided to make a change, or at best, the rain sensor interrupted the schedule during a rain event. The controller did this regardless of each zone’s precipitation rate, sun exposure, temperature, humidity, wind, soil type, and slope or plant type. Today’s Smart Controllers use site-specific conditions and local weather data to maintain and adjust the schedule for more effective use of water. Applying the correct amount of water in the correct place at the correct time will conserve water, save the owner money on the water bill, and ensure that plant material will be healthier in the long run.

As professionals in the landscape and irrigation industry, we need to be aware of current and pending water shortages, and the continuing evolution of improving solutions. We must progressively react to these water issues, to continue to work diligently in preserving this precious resource, and to educate the public to use smart water practices.

Chuck Stassi is a landscape and irrigation designer with R.A. Smith National, Inc., civil engineers and surveyors in Brookfield, Wis. Chuck has 39 years of experience as a landscape architect and 25 years experience as a landscape-irrigation designer. He has provided landscape architectural and irrigation design for numerous commercial/retail, industrial, athletic, and residential projects. He can be reached at

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