6 Tips for Smart Irrigation

Colorado is a naturally dry state, so if you want a luscious green lawn, there’s no avoiding it: you will have to install an irrigation system.  You may be of the opinion that the weather in Northern Colorado has been much wetter for the first half of the year, but the statistics from the weather station located at Colorado State University may change your opinion. Through June, CSU accumulated 11.69” of rainfall, only .23” above average for the year to date. July has certainly warmed up, and August, typically the second-hottest month, will likely continue on the same trend.

Efficient irrigation systems and water management is critical in keeping your landscape green and healthy through the rest of the summer.  It’s easy to waste water by watering at the wrong times of day or for the incorrect amount of time. So how can you save money, water, and effort with your irrigation system? We’ve rounded up some of our best tips for smart irrigation!

  1. Use Sensors: Soil moisture sensors and/or rain sensors can help identify when your landscape may or may not need water. There are different types of sensors that can measure soil moisture, weather, and other factors that affect how much watering your lawn really needs. If the sensor determines your landscape doesn’t need water when it might normally be scheduled to run, it will skip the watering cycle, saving you water.  Over the course of the season, this could add up, resulting in a much lower water bill.
  2. Water Slowly: Watering your landscape slowly and deeply will be much more effective than applying too much water too quickly. Many of the soil types in Northern Colorado are clay, which has an extremely low percolation rate.  When watered too quickly, clay soils are unable to absorb the water and much of it is lost to runoff.  It is recommended to irrigate only as fast as the soil can absorb it and soak the ground at least 4-6 inches. Wait for the ground to begin to dry out a bit before watering again.  This is sometimes referred to as “cycle-soak”.  We recommend not irrigating during the heat of the day (10am – 6pm). Therefore, to achieve a cycle-soak, it is common to break up a watering day by reducing the run time to about half and running a cycle in the morning and again that evening.
  3. Deep Watering: Giving your lawn as well as plantings just a ‘light watering’ daily will train the roots to grow shallow and be less tolerant of stress. Watering for longer amounts of time allows the water to reach deeper into the ground, encouraging a deeper root system.  As discussed in #2, use the cycle- soak method if needed in clay or compacted soils.
  4. Sprinkler Maintenance: Occasionally, check your irrigation system and sprinkler heads to make sure they are adjusted correctly and that there are no leaks or breaks. Leaks can cause a lot of lost water and increase your water bill quickly.  Additionally, if there is a leak then the system will typically lose pressure, which can affect the efficiency of the rest of the system. If you notice a loss of pressure of the sprinkler heads, this could be a sign of a leak somewhere. Another sign that you may have a leak might be an area in your landscape that is always damp. Learn more about what to look for with your sprinkler heads on our blog.
  5. Minimize Run-Off: You’ve probably seen a sprinkler system where the heads aren’t adjusted correctly, and every time it rotates it dumps a fair amount of water on the pavement instead of the landscape. Avoid watering the sidewalks and streets by adjusting your sprinkler heads to cover the landscape only. Try to run sprinkler heads during times of the day that it is less windy (10am – 6pm) to minimize drifting and higher evaporation. Another suggestion is to make use of natural rainfall by directing downspouts into the landscape and build rain gardens to harvest the rainwater.
  6. Add Mulch: Mulch has many aesthetic benefits, which is why many of our clients opt for this look. However, it can also help to preserve water in your yard. Mulch will reduce evaporation and allow your soil to stay damp longer.

Our Alpine Gardens crew members are irrigation professionals – we install and maintain efficient irrigation systems. We want your yard to be as water efficient as possible, so if you have any questions about watering your landscape, please ask us! Contact us here or give us a call at 970-226-2296.