We’re heading for what’s shaping up to be a wet end of the year. Now’s a great time to assess your water management needs and make decisions for what tactics you’ll pursue for next year. With that in mind, we’ve got a few suggestions for how you can augment your water management strategies.
Pick Your Water Management Tools
Technology has brought a great many improvements to many areas of water management, and one of the upgrades is irrigation systems. Coupled with water-saving measures, such irrigation is beneficial for keeping landscaping bright, lively and colorful with a maximum of efficiency and a minimum of human effort. Irrigation is designed to deliver the proper amount water without waste, which is especially important during drought conditions.
Watering by hand, while effective, will result in about 50 percent water waste through evaporation and runoff. Automatic water management systems can be programmed to run during times when evaporation rates are low. The environment will also benefit from proper watering rather than over-watering to compensate for water loss.
Two types of irrigation systems include drip emitters and spray heads.
Drip Emitter Irrigation Systems
A drip irrigation system directs water into the root system of plants. This water management method eliminates loss of water through runoff and evaporation. This type of commercial irrigation system is facilitated by using drip emitters attached to a water source. The emitters are located on the ground and typically arranged in rows. The drip emitters are connected to a water source by a drip hose or the emitters are built into the hose.
Drip emitters control the volume of water delivered to a plant in a slow and measured manner. Because the emitters are located on the ground and close to the root of the plant, the water will be absorbed into the ground more efficiently and be more effective with its objective. In hot weather, water delivered through drip emitters will be less likely to evaporate before reaching its destination. A well designed and installed drip commercial irrigation system will eliminate water waste because it produces no or very little runoff.
As the area of vegetation grows, additional emitters can be added to the system.
Spray Head Irrigation Systems
The spray head water management system is stationary and sprays a fine mist around the circumference of the head and covers areas between 4 to 15 feet. Spray heads are available in pop-up style and only rise above ground when the system is activated and the designs include rotating and stationary spray heads. The precipitation rate of the spray heads is dependent on the water pressure, spray head spacing, nozzle size and manufacturers specifications.
The spray heads spray the water over the vegetation similar to a portable water sprinkler and each spray head is designed to cover a certain area. The layout of the spray heads can be configured to avoid overlapping areas that result in over watering some vegetation. As the water falls to the soil it is absorbed into the soil and provides hydration to the root system.
Protect Your Water Management System at Night
When most people think of preparing their properties for the colder nights ahead, thoughts of covering plants and rolling up the garden hose come to mind. Although you should certainly do those things, there is much more involved in protecting one’s landscaping and hardscapes from the weather than that. For instance, water management systems must eventually be winterized.
Ideally, water management systems should be winterized before the first light freeze occurs. That’s when temperatures dip down to around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Understandably, the date of the first light freeze will vary. However, some parts of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia have a history of experiencing their first light freeze in late September or early October.
To get a better handle on when a particular area is likely to experience its first freeze, consider using The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s First and Last Frost Dates Calculator. It takes all of the existing weather history available for each zip code in America and utilizes it to come up with an estimated date.
The type of water management system that in place will dictate which winterization techniques should be used and how long the entire process will take. One method relies on manual drainage. You can also use automated devices or compressed air equipment.
Once the water is drained out of the entire water management system, take a look at its electrical or battery-operated components. If these aren’t properly protected, frost and other cold weather elements could damage the electrical system or create a fire hazard. To learn more about winterizing irrigation systems and preparing properties for the cold weather ahead, please contact us today.
Add Rain Barrels to Your Water Management
Watering plants does not automatically mean higher water bills, if you use the right water management techniques.
Rain barrels are a great way to integrate water management into your landscaping. Rain barrels can be free-standing to catch a few inches of rainwater at a time or can be hooked to your gutter downspout to catch gallons at a time.
There are many types of rain barrels that range in price from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. You can find a rain barrel that easily fits in your landscape or just contact us and we will help you find the perfect barrel. We would suggest a rain barrel that captures at least 40 gallons at a time. Why so big? Well, 1 inch of rainfall typically generates about 600 gallons of runoff. So, a 40-gallon rain barrel at each downspout will capture plenty of water.
The rainwater you collect is safe to water all your plants. It is free from the typical minerals and chemicals found in municipal water. You can even use it to wash your car or truck.
You can elevate the barrel so you can use a hose, or you can use a watering can and carry the water a short distance. We suggest you let us create a platform for your rain barrel that makes it seem part of your landscape. Then, you can use a hose and let gravity water your plants.
So, before your water bill is higher this summer, let us help you manage your water with rain barrels that fit great into your landscaping. Or better yet, let us landscape around your rain barrel so it won’t even be noticed.
Add Rain Sensors to Your Water Management
Are regular rains enough to keep a lawn and garden growing at an acceptable pace? Ask any landscaper, and they’ll likely tell you, “no.” The good news is showers may at least be able to improve your water management plans. The key to making it work rests with rain sensors. Widely considered to be very beneficial, they may be used with either residential or commercial irrigation systems throughout Virginia and Maryland.
Today’s rain sensors are typically either wireless or wired. Both contain special elements that are designed to absorb rainwater. Once the absorption level reaches a certain saturation point, the device overrides an irrigation system’s programming, thereby stopping it from turning on. When the water absorption element dries out, it kicks the water management system’s preset programming back into gear. Consequently, it helps property owners conserve water, save money, protect their plants and live in harmony with the natural environment all at the same time.
Because rain sensors are capable of conserving water, many groups offer financial incentives to those that choose to add the devices to irrigation systems. Some of the incentives are geared towards commercial property owners in Virginia or Maryland and others are just for residential homeowners. It should also be noted that there are often restrictions attached to the offers. For example, it may be necessary to purchase a particular brand of rain sensor or have it installed within a narrow time frame. Either way, the cost savings are generally substantial enough to make adhering to those guidelines worth the trouble for businesses and homeowners alike.
To speak with a rain sensor expert and learn more, contact the Chapel Valley Landscape Company’s team. Our experienced experts have been featured in design magazines and can help ensure that your property’s water management system works perfectly. We can also help estimate how much you’ll save by adding rain sensors to your properties’ irrigation systems.