Irrigation systems are a critical component in ensuring your commercial landscaping and lawn look healthy, well-maintained, and inviting. The “curb appeal” of your hotel, HOA, or other commercial property is viewed by guests, residents, customers, and employees as an indication of the commitment to a quality experience, community, and workplace. So, keeping your irrigation system running consistently and efficiently will help your landscaping and turfgrass areas have the “curb appeal” that reflects success. But how can you be sure your system is running correctly, how many days a week should it be on, how much time should each zone run to get the right results while also working to minimize waste? Those are good and important questions because residential and commercial irrigation systems are the number one users of water in Texas.
How Many Days A Week Should I Water?
We routinely set our client controllers to water twice a week. Usually on Tuesday and Friday mornings. In many municipalities, we are only permitted to run the irrigation systems twice a week due to watering restrictions. As we continue to experience our current draught, these watering restrictions will likely stay in place. If you are not under a water restriction, then as the temperatures rise, we may increase the watering frequency to three times a week. It’s recommended to water less frequently, and water longer. By targeting 1”-2” of irrigation weekly, we’re able to promote deeper root growth and reduce the potential for heat stress and damage.
How Long Should Each Zone Run?
The run time for each zone will vary based on the area being irrigated. If the zone is watering the turfgrass areas, the zone may not need to run as long to provide adequate irrigation. If the zone is watering the seasonal color, then it likely needs to run longer. To increase the amount of irrigation that will be absorbed into the ground, we will program the controller to do a “Soaker” cycle. This means we’ll run each zone twice. The first cycle for all the zones will be for a shorter amount of time to wet the ground and reduce potential irrigation run-off. After the first cycle has completed, we program the controller to run all the zones again for a longer time. This helps maximize water absorption, promote deeper root growth, and plant health.
How Do I Know My Irrigation System is Running Efficiently?
As mentioned earlier, irrigation systems are the number one consumers of water in Texas. Keeping your irrigation system running efficiently ensures the health of your landscaping, reduces water use and saves money. Commercial irrigation systems are much larger and more complex than residential systems. While residential systems are running water through ½” – 1” tubing, commercial systems are running water through 1”-2” tubing with significantly more pressure and water volume. A break in a 2” irrigation line at 60 psi (and many municipalities have higher water pressures) will push 850 gallons a minute. Any break or leak in your system will cost money through lost water and reduces water pressure at the other nozzles so they will not water as far or as much as needed. That results in putting your landscaping at risk and with our summer heat, can quickly cause plant, flower and grass damage and loss.
The best way to ensure your irrigation system is running properly is to have the system routinely inspected. A proper irrigation system check requires a licensed irrigator to check each zone, nozzle, rotor, and more. The licensed irrigator must have completed a thorough and rigorous training program and pass a test administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The license must be renewed every three years and requires ongoing Continuing Education Units (CEUs). By having your system checked by a licensed Irrigator, you ensure your system is being inspected and repaired by a professional trained to keep your system running as it’s designed. We usually inspect our client’s irrigation systems monthly, eight times a year.
When Is the Best Time to Run the Irrigation System?
Especially with commercial properties, the system start time is determined by the number of zones and how long each zone will run. We program the system to run overnight and target to be finished before 6AM. With larger systems, with 10-20 zones, the start time might be 8PM or earlier. Watering at night has been found to minimize evaporation and because the ground is cooler, maximize absorption. Watering at night also minimizes the disruption to guests, residents, customers, and employees.
How Can I Ensure Our Irrigation System is Running at Maximum Efficiency?
Irrigation system technology has grown tremendously over the past 10 years with new developments in smart irrigation controllers, nozzle heads that stream water to reduce evaporation, drip and low volume emitters, soil moisture sensors, wireless Rain/Freeze sensors and sensors that can use the properties Wi-Fi to connect to multiple local weather stations to automatically increase or decrease irrigation. If you’re like most on a commercial property, the irrigation system was installed years ago and is using technology that is 5-15+ years old. Investing in new nozzle heads, a smart controller, or any of the previously mentioned new technologies can easily pay for themselves in significant water savings and improve the quality of your system. Ask to speak with your licensed irrigator about what innovations might make sense, the cost, and the potential water savings. This will put you in a position to determine payback periods and the investment value proposition.
Because commercial properties use a lot of water, we take irrigation system checks and water conservation very seriously. Your irrigation system is designed to ensure your trees, shrubs, seasonal color, and grass survive the hot summer days and remain healthy. Our Clean Site Promise is your assurance our licensed professionals will inspect and repair your system so you’re confident it’s running effectively and efficiently.
Irrigation systems are a wonderful technology that can help your hotel, HOA or other commercial property look well maintained and inviting. The “curb appeal” of your property will be used by guests, residents, customers, and employees as an indicator of the commitment to the overall success of the organization. We have over 30 years’ experience in working with hotel managers, property managers, HOA Boards and business owners to have the “curb appeal” that tells everyone this business is a winner.
Give us a call, fill out a Contact Form on our website and put our award-winning landscaping crews to work for you!