Wikipedia defines irrigation as the “artificial application of water to the soil,” and it dates back as far as the 6th millennium BCE in agricultural applications in Mesopotamia where barley was grown. In the Americas, recent archaeological excavations in Tucson, Ariz., have unearthed a village site dating about 4,000 years ago, and the people constructed irrigation canals to grow corn, beans and other crops. For turf applications, the concept began with mule-drawn water carts irrigating Scottish fairways in the mid-1800s. Initially developed for golf courses, it didn’t take long before the idea caught on in the 19th century for home lawns as people became envious of the green grass at golf courses and parks and wanted it at their homes as well. And from there, it took off. Unfortunately, for a long time, the notion that more water was better has led us down a path of overuse and misapplication. For a long time the thought has been that the more water put down on a lawn, the greener and more healthy it would be. Now, we know that is not true. Water is an essential part of maintenance, but it doesn’t take a lot of it to make a client’s landscape look impressive. We now have the knowledge to plan out a site into different irrigation zones and to irrigate at certain times during the day when the water will be used more effectively. Where once sprinklers ran all day to drench the turf, we now see smart irrigation controllers that can adjust the timing and amount of irrigation based on real-time data. The technology has certainly come a long way.
This month we celebrate Smart Irrigation Month, an initiative by the Irrigation Association to increase awareness of the value of efficient water use and to help increase the demand for water-saving products, practices and more. July was picked for the promotion because it is traditionally the month of peak demand. First launched in 2005, the campaign is gaining traction as more cities and states are passing laws and provisions on water use and irrigation practices. It is estimated that as much 50 percent of water used in landscaping is wasted due to evaporation, wind or runoff that is caused by overwatering. With water being such a scarce resource these days, there’s no better time to learn how to use it more efficiently and get your clients set up on a system that will leave them with a lush lawn—and a lower water bill.
Amy K. Hill