At Surrounds, we spend almost as much time maintaining landscapes as we do designing and building them. Great Falls Virginia homeowners regularly call upon us to assess a landscape irrigation system and troubleshoot issues for a them.
We see patterns in the types of issues that come up. Most of the time they relate to how the irrigation system is being used. So, here are a few tips to help you ask the right questions when selecting a garden maintenance team to manage your landscape irrigation system.
First, we want you to understand three principles of how plants use water that directly impact irrigation system design and the watering schedule:
When to water
Morning is best because plant root systems take up water most efficiently early in the day. Evening is okay as long as you are certain that the plants being watered are not susceptible to fungus diseases. For example, red twig dogwood likes damp soil, but for many other plants, night time watering could cause problems. A well-designed garden will usually have plants grouped according to their soil, sunlight, shade and moisture requirements.
How much water
Water generously and infrequently. Infrequently? Yes. A deep, thorough soak followed by a period long enough for the soil to dry out in the top several inches will stimulate deep root growth. This makes the plants more hardy and self-sufficient.
Water delivery system
There are two basic types of irrigation: overhead spray and drip. Most shrubs, small trees and planting beds will do better with a drip system that lets water penetrate directly into the root zone. If set up properly, the drip method is extremely efficient: no wasted water and almost no loss to evaporation. For lawns, overhead spray delivery is the way to go.
Now here are a few conditions that may be present on your property that will affect how well your irrigation system will work.
When soil is hard packed or dry, it takes longer to absorb moisture. So, unless you rework a compacted area, you can’t fully soak it in one cycle because it won’t have time to penetrate. It will simply run off and be wasted. The solution for this issue would be a programmable sprinkler set to deliver small amounts of water at intervals that allow water enough time to penetrate to the roots in between cycles.
Small or Oddly Shaped Areas
To achieve even coverage in small or non-standard shaped areas, it would be best to use more sprinklers and adjust water flow accordingly. This will keep water on the lawn and landscaping–and off sidewalks, driveways, patios and decks.
Plant Types & Differing Moisture Needs
The well planned irrigation system design will include high and low pressure nozzles, or nozzles preset on differing cycles. This way, different groupings of plants can receive only the water they need.
Slopes and low spots can cause overwatering (areas at the bottom of the slope) or puddling which can cause problems particularly with turf. Here again, your landscape maintenance contractor can make adjustments to flow rates or add sensors that will shut the system down if flooding occurs.
Modern smart irrigation systems are adaptable to a wide variety of site conditions and weather conditions. Having the right equipment in place is just as important as having the right garden maintenance contractor with the expertise to manage the system for you. If you have questions about your landscape irrigation system and would like an assessment, contact one of our garden management specialists to schedule a walk through at your home.