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Ways to Save Water in the Landscape

Large water rate increases are being adopted in many regions across the country. With water bills likely increasing in many regions around the country, it might be time to reevaluate your land scaping, and how this affects your water usage. 

It’s been reported that residential areas use an estimated 60 percent of their total water intake on their landscaping alone, and businesses an estimated 40 percent. For the multifamily housing industry, increased water rates could translate into higher fees coming out of residents’ pockets, and if so, they will certainly have questions.

Some of the biggest questions will be about what property managers are doing to the landscape in order to save water, and money. Residents might complain that the grass is being watered too frequently or that sprinklers are applying too much water.  Now, more than ever, it’s critical that you have a landscape contractor or maintenance technician that has a thorough understanding about water conserving products, knows how to install and maintain these types of materials, and overall, how to manage water effectively around the property. 

Materials such as weather based controllers, water efficient irrigation products and water-efficient plant material are all products you can install around the landscape to conserve water.  Professional irrigation water management is the key to keeping these materials working correctly and efficiently.   Here’s a quick breakdown of some water conserving materials and techniques:

  • Weather based “smart controllers”:  These control the frequency and application of irrigation on the landscape.  They are highly efficient because instead of irrigating according to a preset schedule, they have sensor-based control technology that uses local weather information to customize irrigation schedules according to actual weather conditions on the site.  These controllers automatically adjust the time and frequency of watering based on the weather conditions, plant material and grade of the landscape. These smart controllers can reduce landscaping related weather costs by as much as 20 percent.
  • Water-efficient planting:  The latest in landscape design uses drought-tolerant plants to not only conserve water and reduce water bills, but to create a beautiful landscape.  These plants need little watering, are hearty, and require less maintenance time.  Landscapers who know their plant material will choose the correct plants for the ground conditions, correctly plant them, and maintain these plants to keep them natural looking. Planting water-efficient plants can save as much as 30-60 gallons per day per 1,000 square feet depending on climate.   
  • Rotary sprinkler heads:  Rotary Nozzles are water-efficient irrigation products that help reduce water waste by distributing water evenly and limiting irrigation run-off. These nozzles produce a uniform distribution. Rotary nozzles fit on many standard spray heads and are easy to install. Adjusting sprinkler heads to reduce overspray and runoff can save as much as 15–25 gallons per day. 

If your property hires outside landscapers to beautify the grounds, be sure you research the company, or look for contractors with certifications. With the recent rise in water rates and possibly more to come—it’s imperative to find a contractor that is not only affordable, but knowledgeable enough to save you money in the long run.

Paul Tilley is Vice President for Shasta Landscaping in San Diego, CA. Shasta Landscaping is a commercial landscape firm serving homeowners and apartment managers associations, property managers and various municipal facilities and government and state contracts.  With the company for nine years, Tilley oversees construction operations, training programs and business development. He can be reached at [email protected]