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GardenSMART :: Irrigation Technology Advances to Save You Time, Water and Money

Irrigation Technology Advances to Save You Time, Water and Money

By Alex Nathanson, Rain Bird Corporation
Photographs courtesy of Rain Bird Corporation

As spring gives way to summer, you may find yourself spending more and more time outdoors watering your grass, plants and trees. Fortunately, there are some new, efficient irrigation products and technologies that can save you considerable amounts of water and give you more time to enjoy your garden. Plus, as water becomes more expensive in certain parts of the country, using less of it isn't just good for the environment – it's also good for your wallet.  

Updating your current irrigation system doesn't have to be expensive, disruptive or time consuming. A couple of simple changes can make a huge difference and keep your landscape looking its best. Here are five of the newest technologies recommended by the irrigation experts at Rain Bird to help you maintain a healthy, beautiful yard with less water.

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WiFi-enabled "smart" timers. Today's WiFi-enabled weather-smart automatic sprinkler timers put more control in the palm of your hand. They provide wireless access to your irrigation system via an iPhone or Android mobile app. These timers receive daily weather information from the Internet, automatically adjusting system run times to help save you water and time. They also provide notifications on your mobile devices to assist with troubleshooting, system diagnostics and operation.

Pressure-regulating sprinklers. High water pressure is a common problem in many communities. As pressure increases, sprinklers can create inefficient fog or mist, which easily blows off course in the wind instead of landing on the grass. Spray head sprinklers with an integrated pressure regulating stem reduce misting and fogging so water goes right where you need it. Similar to a low flow shower head, pressure regulating sprinklers can help save approximately one gallon per minute per sprinkler. That adds up to significant water savings over time.

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High-efficiency nozzles. Today's high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles can also deliver better performance and greater water savings. High efficiency nozzles deliver more even coverage throughout the spray pattern, as well as gentle close-in watering to eliminate dry spots around the spray head. High efficiency allows you to shorten sprinkler run times by up to 35%, saving more water and money. Best of all, you can replace your old nozzles in minutes with no digging required. Rotary nozzles are another water-efficient option. These nozzles feature rotating streams of water at a lower precipitation rate, significantly reducing runoff and erosion. Ideal for sloped areas and clay or compacted soils, rotary nozzles can reduce flow by up to 60% and improve water efficiency by up to 30%.

Subsurface drip irrigation. While you're probably familiar with drip irrigation, you may not think to install drip underground. Similar to a high tech soaker hose, subsurface dripline efficiently delivers water directly to turf or plant roots with no interference from wind and other environmental factors. This makes subsurface dripline up to 90% efficient, using 30-70% less water than overhead irrigation.

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In the past, people have avoided installing dripline underground since roots tend to seek out water sources and eventually clog the system. Specially designed subsurface drip tubing uses a small copper chip in each emitter which safely prevents roots from invading and clogging the dripline without the use of chemicals. Available in a variety of emitter flow rates, emitter spacing and coil lengths, subsurface dripline provides design flexibility for either subsurface grass or subsurface shrub and groundcover applications.

Wireless rain sensors. If you've ever seen a sprinkler system running during a torrential downpour, you'll understand the need for a rain sensor. While older rain sensor models had to be wired back to the system's timer, newer versions are wireless for faster, easier installation. Some sense both rainfall and freezing temperatures, allowing you to choose from multiple pre-defined set-points at which irrigation will be suspended. The result? Water savings of up to 35%.

With so many affordable options, updating your sprinkler system for greater efficiency is easier than ever before. To learn more about the products and technologies mentioned in this article like the ST8-WiFi smart timer, HE-VAN high efficiency nozzles and XFS subsurface dripline, please visit www.rainbird.com. However, keep in mind that an efficient system is just one part of the water-savings equation. Operating your system wisely will save even more water. For lots more water-saving tips and techniques that you can implement today, take a look at the free resources at 25ways.rainbird.com.

 


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