It’s official, according to the U.S. EPA: Americans waste as much as 50% of the water they use outdoors, largely from inefficient watering methods and systems.
What, you say? Water is cheap. Why worry?
Well, yes, if you compare it to gasoline, water is cheap. But when you add up all the gallons used to keep a landscape looking lush and beautiful, water can be a significant monthly expense. For a large property, it can easily add up to hundreds of dollars per month.
Using water wisely is also a responsible environmental choice. Here in central Georgia, we may not expect to experience the extremes of drought suffered in California and Texas. However, it never hurts to be prepared, and adopting smart water use strategies can reduce or prevent problems before they occur.
Reducing your use of irrigation water will also protect your soil by minimizing the amount of chlorine, excess iron, and other substances that pumped-in water deposits on the soil.
Tips For Reducing Your Property’s Water Bill
The one good thing about wasting a lot of water is that it’s easy for most people to reduce their water bill significantly by making a few simple changes. Here are some commercial landscaping ideas we have found to be most effective in reducing irrigation water bills. They are true water management solutions.
Choose Plants Suited To Your Region
Choosing native plants and other species that are ideally suited to your rainfall and climate is the #1 thing you can do to reduce your irrigation water consumption. Proper plant selection starts with being very familiar with your site and with your region.
Consulting a designer who knows the soils, climate, and rainfall patterns in your immediate area is essential because conditions can sometimes be quite different just 100 miles away.
Maintain Healthy Soil Structure
Well developed soil acts like a sponge, absorbing and retaining water and minimizing runoff. Soil improvement techniques such as adding organic matter, designing for reduced soil compaction, and proper aeration will help your plants get maximum benefit from minimum water input.
Among the many benefits of mulch are that it protects the soil from evaporation and inhibits weeds, which compete with your plants for water. Organic mulches can also help add organic matter to the soil over time. Some mulches degrade faster than others. Some never degrade but may be very inappropriate for many properties.
For example, stone is usually not a good choice in our humid southern climate because it tends to grow weeds very quickly. It’s important to choose an appropriate mulch for your application and apply it properly.
Zone Your Landscaping Properly
Different areas of your property will have varying conditions such as sun, shade and wind exposure. When designing a landscape, it’s important to take these microclimates into account and zone accordingly. If you are zoning an existing landscape, you must also consider the various water needs of any plant species already in place.
For instance, it’s not a good idea to bundle a sunny area into the same zone with an area around the corner that gets shade all day. By the same token, irrigation zones should be managed separately. That sunny area will most likely need more supplemental watering than the shady one.
Overwatering is by far the most common commercial landscape management mistake we see. Not only does it waste water, but it encourages shallow root development. If and when you do find yourself in drought conditions and having to face water restrictions, these plants will suffer terribly.
Losing established plants for this reason is heartbreaking but entirely preventable. A knowledgeable landscape provider will know how much to water young plants to give them a good start without compromising their performance at maturity.
Design For Water Conservation
Modern water conservation methods are encouraging a complete rethinking of landscape design. For instance, the conventional way to design a parking lot is to elevate the landscape beds into islands and run excess rainfall into a drain.
What if, instead, we planted into a depression and allowed the collected rainwater to do most of the watering for us?
Swales, holding cisterns, permeable pavements, retaining ponds, and other devices can all be used to reduce runoff and use water the way nature does. Many of these systems are aesthetically beautiful, and some even have fire suppression benefits.
Install Smart Irrigation Controllers
Especially for commercial landscapes, the use of newer water conservation technologies such as water saving heads, monitors, moisture sensors, and smart controllers can greatly reduce water consumption without compromising the health of your landscape.
Water savings of 30% or more are not uncommon when switching to a smart controller. This will pay for the cost of the unit within a few months on a large yard. Technology like this has been in use on golf courses for decades, but now it is affordable for everyone — even homeowners — and can be easily managed from anywhere on your smartphone or tablet.
Want To Learn More About Water Management?
We have excelled in landscape management, maintenance and design all over the Southeast since 1990. Whether you’re planning a new landscape or want to reduce the cost of watering your current one, contact us here, or give us a call at 478-750-7733. We’ll give you the personal attention you and your plants deserve.
Images: Red hose, Orange nozzle