Designing Irrigation Systems to Save Water

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The design of an irrigation system significantly impacts water efficiency. First, read about Efficient Irrigation Services and Products (pdf).

Then ask yourself or your designer these questions

  • Is the contractor certified? Learn about Hiring a Certified Irrigation Contractor. They are often better trained to design and install sprinkler systems.installation
  • Are plants grouped by watering needs? Water is wasted by grouping plants with different watering needs into one sprinkler zone. This results in some areas being over or under-watered. The following scenarios should never be together on one sprinkler zone:
    • Shrub and lawn
    • Sun and shade
    • Spray heads, rotors and drip irrigation
  • Will the sprinkler system components work properly with the water pressure? High or low pressure will result in dry areas. . High pressure can cause water to drift and blow away from the site.
    • Is your pressure too high or low?
    • What is the optimal pressure for your sprinkler head or drip type?
    • If you have high pressure, will the system have pressure regulation?
  • Will the system have a rain sensor? Rain sensors pause the irrigation system during rain events.
  • Will the sprinkler system over-spray? Does the design prevent over-spraying onto sidewalks, driveways or patios?
  • Will the system be controlled by weather or soil moisture sensors? Also called smart controllers, they modify the sprinkler runtimes according to the weather or the soil’s moisture content.
  • Are non-grass areas being watered with dripline? Watering non-grass areas with overhead sprinklers is very inefficient.
  • Do you know the schedule. Make sure the contractor documents the sprinkler system run-times for each zone, including days per week, time of day and number of start times. Use the Irrigation Scheduling Chart (pdf) – use as is or make modifications for your site. Irrigation Scheduling Tools (pdf)