The dawn of spring means time to think about lawn irrigation and sprinklers. But irrigation is so much more than sprinkler heads and plumbing lines. Smart technology and careful design are revolutionizing the irrigation business.
Why is irrigation important?
A good irrigation and sprinkler system can keep your lawn and landscaping healthy, but you want to make the best use of your resources. You can actually damage your lawn by watering too much or too little, and an automatic sprinkler system can maximize lawn health without using too much water. Water is a vital resource, and irrigation should be deployed wisely to make the best use of it.
What are smart irrigation systems?
Automatic irrigation systems have been around for years, turning the sprinklers on and off at prearranged times. However, these still required the homeowner to keep an eye on the system and change it when needed. Sometimes you’d forget to switch it from the spring to summer settings, and you’d end up overwatering things or vice versa. Also, older automatic sprinklers didn’t always take local conditions into account – the system might kick in even if a rainstorm was passing through.
Newer smart irrigation systems take both seasonal adjustments and current weather into account by connecting to local weather stations via Wi-Fi. They’ll bump up the water output during drier periods, then automatically turn it down when cooler weather sets in. And they won’t activate at all during rain. Not only does this conserve water, you’ll recoup the extra cost over time in utility savings.
Furthermore, updated rotor heads can adjust the water level and spray from between 3 and 30 feet.
Who should install an irrigation system?
An irrigation system isn’t a DIY job. A professional will have a keen understanding of the best water usage and how to position sprinkler heads so they don’t overlap each other or waste water hitting the side of your house. Also, digging in your yard is a delicate matter. Existing utility lines can often be found 18 inches below the surface, so you can easily damage these lines by digging to install sprinklers. A professional will contact utility companies ahead of time to mark out the exact locations.
Top-notch irrigation installers also understand that lawns don’t call for a one-size-fits-all solution. Different plants require different water levels, and adjusting to those needs is an important component of an effective and efficient irrigation system.
A high-quality irrigation system will cost a few thousand dollars, depending on the size of your yard. Industry experts say you can expect to pay between $100 and $150 per installed sprinkler head, and most yards will require at least a dozen or so heads (and many more if you have a larger yard).
Whether you’re installing a new one or having an existing system repaired, make sure you know the location of the master valve in order to shut the system down. That’s the first thing you want to do before calling a repair expert when something goes wrong.
By Paul F. P. Pogue, Angie’s List. Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.