Grounds Management: Eye on Irrigation

  September 13, 2013

Much of the focus on sustainability in institutional and commercial facilities centers on building components and systems and their energy-efficient operations. Often overlooked in such discussions are the landscapes surrounding facilities. While discussions of sustainable landscapes often center on the use of fertilizers and other chemicals, grounds managers also need to consider a range of important areas, including irrigation systems, in their efforts to make landscapes more environmentally friendly.

Irrigation systems are not one-size-fits-all technology, so managers need to ensure their systems are designed to address a property's specific needs. This goal is essential in areas with either limited water supplies or water restrictions.

Sprinkler heads are key components to consider when inspecting an existing irrigation system or when having a new one installed. By specifying the most appropriate type of sprinkler heads and ensuring they are installed in a uniform manner, managers can prevent the unnecessary watering of sidewalks and parking areas.

Proper maintenance of irrigation systems also is essential because a poorly maintained system can prevent a significant amount of water from ever reaching its intended target. Instead, the water is lost to runoff, evaporation and deep watering below the root zone. Ensuring an irrigation system is properly maintained also reduces water waste and pollution from runoff and over-irrigation, while improving the landscape's health by applying the correct amount of water.

Monthly system checks ensure that rain sensors function properly, that moisture sensors are programmed correctly, and that filters have been inspected and cleaned and are free of sediment. Failure to properly maintain these individual pieces of the irrigation system can result in excess water use, increasing operation costs.


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