Irrigation systems can be incredible water savers for your commercial Atlanta property, helping regulate when and how water is distributed to the landscape. Effective irrigation promotes plant health and contributes to the vitality of your landscape—plants need water to survive, after all. A well-working irrigation system also protects your investment in the landscape. Properly caring for plants is far more cost-effective than paying to replace them.
The problem is, you gain the benefits of irrigation only when your system is running efficiently and its mechanicals are in good condition. If your system has a leak or break, you might not see the issue on the surface, but your water bill will clue you in that there’s a problem. Also, with all of the technology advances in irrigation systems in the past years, an older system that’s working just fine could be costing you more than you should pay to water your property.
Saving water is financially and environmentally responsible, and an updated irrigation system will give you all of the benefits you should expect:
So, how do you know if your irrigation system needs a tune up or a complete overhaul? (We refer to that as an irrigation renovation.) Let’s talk about five signs that your irrigation system is draining your budget and what you can do to update it today.
The irrigation controller will hint at the system’s age. Modern irrigation system controllers are “smart” and allow you to input information such as ZIP code, plant/soil type and allowed watering days to regulate system use. Smart controllers with rain sensors act like a thermostat, only delivering water when the soil needs it.
Older fixed sprayheads become safety hazards for pedestrians, who can trip over the protruding heads if they’re located in traffic areas of lawn. They’re also prone to breakage during routine landscape maintenance. Updated sprayheads come in various configurations to efficiently water commercial landscapes, including pop-up heads, high-efficiency rotary heads, and drip nozzles that deliver water to shrubbery and landscape plantings. You know an older system by its sprayheads, and updating them is a wise idea for water savings.
Your landscape evolves over time and the irrigation system should be modified to accommodate mature plantings. Young, establishing plants require more frequent watering than grown-in shrubs, for example. You’ll know a system needs updating if sprinkler heads are positioned to water mature landscaping. Those plants do not require extra moisture because they are established. The irrigation system can be renovated to exclude mature landscaping, reducing the system footprint and therefore conserving water use.
If you walk your property in the early morning after the irrigation system runs, you should not find puddles and over-saturated areas. If you do see puddles, then your irrigation system should be audited and may need renovating to prevent water waste. Those pools of water and wet spots indicate that those areas are getting too much water. (The soil and plants soak up what moisture they need, and the rest rests on the surface.)
It could be that your irrigation system is running when it’s not necessary, and a weather station and smart controller will solve the problem. Or, spray heads may need adjusting so water is distributed on the landscape and not hard surface. An irrigation audit of your commercial property can uncover these issues so you can save water now.
Irrigation system renovation is a lot like taking your car in for a tune-up. If your vehicle gets worn out from use and is not properly maintained or repaired, you’ll be turning it in for a newer model sooner than you might want. Older irrigation systems can begin to fail—even from basic issues like broken nozzles, leaks, damaged spray heads. They need TLC so they can work efficiently and last longer. By renovating your irrigation system and updating controllers, valves, spray heads and other key components, you’ll get more life (and ROI) out of the system.
Now, you’re wondering about cost and how fast you’ll see a return on your investment if you update irrigation system parts or renovate an entire system. If you’re simply replacing an old irrigation clock with a smart controller, you could pay off the cost within a month or two of water savings.
Full irrigation system renovations can be done in stages to spread out the cost and speed up your ROI. For example, if the total cost of renovation is $15,000 and you do the project over a three-year period at $5,000 per year, you’ll begin realizing savings as you are updating the system. If you choose to do the renovation all at one time, it could take up to five years before you see a return. Regardless, the water savings you’ll realize with an efficient, updated irrigation system are well worth the cost.
We recommend a complete irrigation system audit every seven years, and new commercial clients should certainly undergo an audit so HighGrove irrigation specialists can identify any weak links in the system. Now is an ideal time for a licensed irrigation technician to review your irrigation system—before the warm Atlanta late-spring and hot summer kicks in. Additionally, find out how a water management program can help you save on your water bill.
Each year HighGrove Partners cues you into the trends that matter most for commercial property owners and managers throughout metro Atlanta with our annual Commercial Property Trends Report.
In our 2017 Commercial Property Trends Report, we'll show you trends in regards to: