Ongoing commercial landscape maintenance is important for keeping your property looking its best. Irrigation maintenance is no exception.
Your irrigation system is the heart of your commercial property. It delivers the most important resource to your landscape: water. While rainwater might suffice for some of your heartier trees and shrubs, annuals and turf need frequent watering via irrigation to thrive.
Whether you use a sprinkler system, drip irrigation, or some other form of irrigation system, the amount of water your commercial property receives is something to keep a close eye on. Without proper irrigation, you could be using too much or not enough water.
Dry, brown spots of grass are a sign your lawn isn’t getting enough water. Often, these dry spots will need to be replaced and require you to replant entire beds of grass, which can make the property look unsightly. If lawn irrigation systems are overused, excess water that is not absorbed into the soil will result in pooling water. This excess water attracts mosquitoes and other insects as well as promotes the growth of mold and mildew.
One tool to help determine if irrigation systems are working properly is an irrigation audit.
What Is an Irrigation Audit?
An irrigation audit is a procedure used to collect and provide information on an irrigation system. With this audit, you can identify and fix elements of your irrigation system that aren’t correctly serving your greenery, which gives you the best shot at a healthy, green lawn. An irrigation audit will pinpoint any issue in need of immediate attention and indicate where system improvements should be made to conserve water and protect your landscape.
What Does an Irrigation Audit Do?
An irrigation audit saves you money. Commercial property owners should perform a standard irrigation audit once every three to five years. This prevents any potential damage to your irrigation system from progressing — and your water bills from increasing astronomically. After all, there’s always a head to adjust or a controller that can be modified to save water.
The irrigation audit process involves an inspection of three key factors:
- Faulty Equipment
By observing these factors and rectifying any issues present, you can save money and keep your lawn from turning brown.
An irrigation expert will create an inventory of your landscape based on a blueprint of your property. This inventory includes all plants currently installed as well as the irrigation equipment in use. This allows your irrigation expert to make sure that all plants are zoned correctly and confirm that plants are grouped spatially according to their watering needs.
Proper zoning is vital because plants with differing needs can compete for resources in unhealthy ways. Also, you could be wasting water on plants that don’t need as much instead of directing it toward needier flowers or turf.
In the second part of the irrigation audit process, your irrigation expert checks for faulty equipment. Defective equipment can lead to the overwatering or underwatering of plants. To make sure that plants aren’t being under or overwatered, the irrigation expert first turns on the system and fills the main line. Then, they put a pressure gauge on it and hold the supply of water. If the main line holds pressure, that tells them that there are no weeping valves or leaks.
Once that’s done, your irrigation expert will check for broken, missing, or damaged sprinkler heads. This is the most obvious way in which irrigation systems waste water. While leaks can occur below the surface and be difficult to detect, wear and tear on sprinkler heads is often easier to discover.
How often have you driven by a property or house in the rain that has the sprinklers running? This is a serious waste of water — and money. Rain sensors are vital in preventing that and save water by turning off your irrigation system when it’s raining. However, it's common to assume your rain sensor is working properly. Sensors are easy to test, but they usually only need to be checked annually to make sure they’re shutting down your irrigation system at the appropriate times.
Your irrigation system exists to make sure your plants are getting the right amount of water, and precipitation tests are how your irrigation expert makes sure this is happening. Precipitation tests are vital. Without them, irrigation experts can only provide rough estimates about how much water is saturating your landscape.
Here’s how a precipitation test works:
- Collection cups are spaced throughout the property
- The irrigation system is turned on and run to measure the amount of water being sprayed on each zone within the landscape.
- The cups are checked to see how much water entered each cup and, in turn, each area.
From there, your irrigation expert will know exactly how much water is being delivered to your plants, as well as where water is being delivered and where it’s not. Adjustments will be made to ensure even coverage, which will help prevent common eyesores like patches of brown turf.
Why Irrigation Audits Are Important for Your Wallet and the Environment
It’s important to note how important using water efficiently is for the environment. For example, using less water results in less runoff, and phosphorus runoff from chemicals in your soil (i.e., fertilizer) can contribute to issues like algae blooms in lakes.
There’s a huge return on investment for monitoring your irrigation system correctly. Overwatering could cost you hundreds of dollars per year per zone, and valuable plants that die due to underwatering could cost the same amount or more to replace.
Ready for Savings? Schedule Your Irrigation Audit Today
At Schill Grounds Management, we want to make sure you use water wisely and keep your irrigation system working like new. We partner with amazing vendors and subcontractors to ensure your landscape is using resources efficiently.
Whether you want us to give your property a comprehensive inspection or would like to schedule your irrigation audit, call us at 440-345-8210 or reach out online and one of our experts will get back to you shortly.
Photo Credit: Sprinkler by Aqua Mechanical; Lawn Sprinklers by J. An; Irrigation by Craig Camp