Smart Irrigation Control - A comparison

Smart Controllers with your sprinkler controller creates beautiful landscapesPaul E. Urzagaste a Graduate Student at Utah State University wrote his thesis about research he conducted on various smart irrigation control products.  I asked him to share his thoughts about our Weather Reach products compared to his experience with other products.  He shared this with me and gave me permission to put it on our Blog.
“Based on my experience and the results we obtained, between the controllers we tested, there are not significant differences in terms of water conservation.  But when we analyze in detail, different aspects of the controllers, we can find advantages and disadvantages in every single one of the controllers.

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6 Basics of Water Wise Landscaping

By using simple concepts that conserve water in our landscapes we can cut our water usage in half or in some cases up to 80%. This is possible and will actually improve the health of your plant material especially your beautiful lawns. These concepts consist of 6 basic principles: 1. Hydro-zone the sprinkler system, 2. Plant Selection, 3. Shrink the turf. 4. Proper/smart irrigation techniques, 5. Soil quality, and 6. Use of mulch.
Beautiful gardens start with beautiful plants 1. Hydro-zone the sprinkler system. Grouping plant material in the landscape based on water needs is called Hydro-zoning. Zoning plants this way is beneficial in that each zone gets the amount of water the plants in that zone need, instead of watering the entire area based on the plants with the highest water needs. This can be done with out a complete over haul of your sprinkler system by replanting plant material according to water needs adjusting your irrigation controller programs to water differently based on each hydro-zone or installing a smart irrigation controller. 

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The "E" in ET

Water Managers, our goal is to eliminate waste while sustaining beautiful lawns and landscapes.  By identifying and eliminating waste we can conserve water that saves our customers money. May I invite you to explore a thought with me? 
We know that ET is short for evapotranspiration; a compound word describing evaporation from the soil and transpiration plants.  ET happens; it is part of the water cycle.  Remember, water that evaporates from the soil has not helped a plant.  The only water plants need is pulled through the plant by transpiration.  Once water evaporates, it is gone, it’s out of site.  If an irrigation system delivers water that never helps a plant, our customers are paying for water that was wasted.  Efficient irrigation gets water to plant roots, so it can transpire.

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Beautiful Lawns Begin With The Right Grass Type

Beautiful Lawns with smart controllers and the right grass Grass is by and large the area that most of our landscape water is wasted. The average lawn consists primarily of Kentucky Blue Grass and can handle higher amounts of water without showing signs of stress. Also because of its herbaceous nature it is one of the first plants in our landscapes to show damage from lack of water. Kentucky Blue Grass is a cool season grass. Cool season grasses, as there name suggests, grow best in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. They are characterized by deep greens, soft texture, frequent mowing, and vigorous growth/spreading. They have longer green periods but also require more frequent fertilization. Without irrigation during the hot summer months cool season grasses will not have enough water to stay green and will “brown up”. These grasses also have a high risk of dying and becoming patchy in drought years where warm season grasses would not. Cool season grasses handle traffic much better than warm season grasses especially during the spring, fall, and winter.

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Look for Water Waste

Water districts expect us to conserve water.  Customers are complaining about high water bills.  But our #1 job is to keep the landscape looking healthy and green.  So how do we do it?  Improving irrigation efficiency is the job for a water manager.
May I suggest water conservation and efficient water use starts by looking for waste?  Plants need water.  If water used to irrigate does not benefit the plant, it is wasted.  Our job as water managers is to look for and eliminate wasted water while making sure plants get enough water to be healthy and beautiful.

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Conscience Water Use Through Plant Selection

Smart Irrigation Control for Water Conservation in landscapingThe last few years the national drought is the highest it has been in centuries. We waste anywhere from 30% - 80% of our precious and quickly waning resource of water on our landscapes. The number one thing a home owner can do to conserve water is to install a smart irrigation controller or begin hand watering your landscape. This is because no matter what plant material we have we are prone to over water it as a precaution. With hand watering we see the actual needs of the plants more, don’t water when it rains, and have to take the time to go out and water. With smart irrigation controllers they do it all for you by measuring weather conditions to know when the plant material actually needs irrigated. There are several smart controllers to chose from and should be considered based on individual needs and landscape requirements.

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