Usually, if you're “I.Q. smart,” it means you're good at figuring things out and taking tests to prove it. But this month, I'm more concerned with your irrigation quotient than that other one. How smart are you when it comes to irrigation?

To boost awareness of the importance of using irrigation efficiently, the Irrigation Association (IA) has named July Smart Irrigation Month. “Smart Irrigation Month is a way for the industry to highlight irrigation equipment and practices that make the most of our most precious resource,” says Tom Kimmell, IA executive director. “While the irrigation industry is bringing increasingly efficient technology to the marketplace, irrigation consumers have an important role in choosing efficient technology and using it effectively.”

That's right. As usual, you have a role in this, too. The choices you make when it comes to irrigation products are going to dictate how efficiently you use water.

“An inefficient landscape irrigation system can waste 30 to 50 percent or more of the water used,” says Ken Mills, Irrigation Association president. “Over-watering causes water to runoff and run down the gutters in the street. This is terrible waste of our fresh water supply, which already is in short supply.”

The products you select to use in your irrigation systems must have been designed to irrigate efficiently.

“To save water using an irrigation system is complex because it is a ‘system’ rather than an individual product … The system must be designed to integrate all of the components into an efficient user of water with attention given to the site soil types and types of plant material to be irrigated as well as sunny or shaded areas in the landscape,” says Ken Mills, Irrigation Association president.

While installing an automatic irrigation system is the important first step toward “smart irrigation,” you can maximize irrigation efforts by also following these tips provided by Rain Bird:

  1. Water by zone

    Dividing the yard into separate irrigation zones allows for the grass to be watered separately and more frequently than ground-covers, shrubs and trees.

  2. Waste not, want not

    Instead of watering for one long, continuous session, try splitting the watering time into shorter periods and take 15-minute breaks in between each session. This will let the water soak in while minimizing runoff.

  3. Watch the clock

    Water between 5 and 10 a.m. These are times when the sun is low, winds are usually calm and temperatures are cooler.

  4. Consider drip

    When it comes to watering individual trees, flowerbeds, potted containers or other non-grassy areas, you can apply water directly to the roots with low-volume drip irrigation.

  5. Do routine inspections and make adjustments

    A clogged sprinkler head or torn line can wreak havoc on your client's landscape and water bill. Make sure heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways.

“… It's imperative that we all do whatever we can to assure we use irrigation water, a finite resource, in a most efficient and responsible manner,” says Mills. “Really, we have no choice for the long term viability of our industry.”

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