Water Conservation Tips for HOA’s and Large Commercial Properties

The challenge of watering Homeowners Associations (HOAs) and other large commercial properties during a drought can be greatly reduced by using proven maintenance practices, integrating irrigation technology designed to water more efficiently and incorporating Xeriscape principles.

 

Following are practical tips provided by Signature’s landscape experts to help large properties keep landscapes healthy while using less water.

Tip #1: Determine the best water plan

drip-hoaIn communities where mandatory water restrictions have been enacted, large properties are typically faced with two irrigation options: watering on assigned days or participating in a designated water budget program. Because many commercial properties with large landscapes need more flexibility to deliver water to all their irrigation zones, property managers may elect to use a water budget. Water budgets determine a certain number of inches per year, gallons per square foot, or percentage reduction of water use based on evapotranspiration (ET). If using a water budget, the property can normally be watered any day of the week, but is limited to a prescribed amount of water. Irrigation professionals can help develop a program that is best for the property.

Tip #2: Perform proper irrigation maintenance

Improving irrigation system efficiency is one of the best ways to save water and money not only in a drought year, but every year. At system start-up and throughout the watering season, the system should be checked for leaks and broken heads and repaired promptly. Heads should be straight and not obstructed by tall grasses or plants.
Spray heads that mist or fog are indicators that the water pressure is too high and wasting water. Installing pressure-regulating devices will save water and help apply water directly to the plants.
Replacing mismatched nozzles and installing higher efficiency nozzles also save water. Many water providers offer rebates on high-efficiency nozzles, so be sure to check rebate qualifications online or ask your landscape contractor. Drip irrigation is recommended for watering trees, shrubs and flower gardens.
Drip irrigation systems are water efficient because they are not as susceptible to water loss due to evaporation, wind or surface runoff.

Tip #3: Incorporate water-saving technology

etsystemSmart controllers, also known as evapotranspiration (ET) controllers, measure soil type and characteristics, precipitation rates, plant water requirements, and weather to deliver only the amount of water needed. Controller types, features and costs vary, and some brands allow the entire system to be maintained remotely via the Internet.
Another important and inexpensive technology is a rain sensor, which prevents the irrigation system from watering during a rainstorm. Many water utilities offer rebates on water-saving technologies.

Tip #4:  Xeriscape

Xeriscape is more than a garden style or type of plant. It is a comprehensive approach to landscaping that combines seven landscaping principles to conserve water. The process includes proper design, soil prep, appropriate plant selection, water efficient irrigation, practical turf areas, mulches and appropriate maintenance. Converting all or part of an existing property to Xeriscape is another way to save water.

Tip #5: Schedule watering based on site conditions

Several factors must be considered when setting watering schedules on large properties, including soil, slope, plant types, exposures and existing irrigation technology. To adequately determine frequency and duration of watering, water application rates, soil characteristics, plant needs, weather variation and the capabilities of your irrigation technology must also be considered. For example in May, the controller might be scheduled to apply only 50 percent of the peak water budget that would be applied during the heat of July.
The amount of water applied at any one time should not exceed the infiltration rate of the soil or water will run off. Newer controllers allow for multiple start times so that the cycle- and-soak method can be utilized for better infiltration.

Tip #6: Hire a Pro

Not all landscape contractors are irrigation efficiency experts. When interviewing contractors, ask for water-saving successes from their work on similar-sized properties.
It is important to select a contractor who understands the principles of water management and also has the expertise to operate new technology. Providing the contractor the property’s water bill will help him better assess how to employ water saving measures.

 

greencoThis fact sheet is part of the Green Industries of Colorado (GreenCO) education series. GreenCO is an alliance of seven trade associations representing all facets of horticulture and landscape industries. This educational material is courtesy of GreenCO and made possible through a Water Efficiency Program Grant from the Colorado Water
Conservation Board (CWCB).

Northern Nevada Drought – Things you should know as you program your irrigation clocks

It’s a warm, dry spring and we’ve known for months the Truckee Meadows is in for a very dry summer.

So…other than an extremely elevated FIRE season, what does this mean for all of us who have a front lawn to mow, veggie seeds in the ground and a some trees to offer cools shade on the hot side of the house?  Can we tend to our plants and still save water?

Lawn watering tip for now through mid-June:  After watering the grass, let the top 1/2″ of the soil dry out before watering again.  This is when the roots are growing deep to seek water in the soil.  By letting that top 1/2″ dry out, you’re building a more healthy, drought tolerant lawn.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. While landscapes do take water, they also give back. Landscaping is part of our eco-system that cleans the air, shades buildings, mitigates pollution in both the air and storm water, produces food and cools the urban environment. Landscapes give back to us much more than they take.
  2. Water-deprived landscapes become unhealthy ones that are susceptible to weeds and disease. Even in dry times, we need to protect the long-term value of our landscapes while conserving water. LOW water does not mean NO water. We simply need to water responsibly.
  3. Now is the time to get busy and do the things that save water–like simple, budget-friendly upgrades to the sprinkler system.  Irrigation clocks/timers/controllers are terribly sophisticated these days – and the price on the good ones are surprisingly affordable. Plus they’re very user friendly!

Remember Xeriscapes from years gone by?  Now a globally-known concept, it was invented in Colorado about 30 years ago and its principles apply today.  Xeriscape isn’t a “look” or a specific kind of landscape, rather, it’s a whole system that starts in the soil and ends with a rich plant palette and vibrant healthy landscape.

What it looks like in your yard is up to personal preference and individual interpretation that comes about with a good design.  If you’re planning to renovate or installing a new landscape this year, check out what Xeriscape really means, because that vision of rocks and yucca plants is nothing more than pure urban legend!

Call our Landscape Design Center at (775) 857-4333 and schedule a free consultation to help visualize how a water-smart landscape could actually save you money while looking the best on the block.

Plus, all new landscapes qualify for our 180-Days Same-As-Cash landscape and paver program. So you can take your own sweet time to pay a landscape to last you and your family a lifetime.