By Beth Livingston
To help contractors, builders, and designers create climate-appropriate, beautiful landscapes that use water efficiently, EPA created the WaterSense® Water Budget Tool. The Web-based tool requires simple inputs such as zip code and desired plant type to determine whether a landscape design uses too much water for the region.
WaterSense can also suggest regionally appropriate plantings to help use water efficiently in your region. Selecting the right plant for the right place, properly preparing the soil, and installing an efficient irrigation system can be critical to a high-performing, low-maintenance landscape.
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Controllers with WaterSense
While the WaterSense Water Budget Tool can’t tell the homeowner when or how much to water, installing a WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controller can take some of the guesswork out of scheduling. These “smart” controllers use local weather and landscape data to tailor watering schedules to actual conditions on the site instead of irrigating on a preset schedule. They allow irrigation to better match actual landscape water needs by using advanced weather data-gathering technologies.
As outdoor temperatures increase or rainfall decreases, labeled controllers adjust watering schedules to compensate for the fluctuation. They also automatically alter watering times and events based on site-specific variables, such as soil type, plant type, and local weather changes. Using WaterSense labeled controllers instead of standard clock timer controllers can save an average home nearly 8,800 gallons of water annually.
Be Different: Get Certified
In addition to water-saving products and homes, WaterSense labels certification programs that train and test professionals on water-efficient techniques including proper irrigation system design, installation, maintenance, and auditing. Here’s a list of certifications and where you can get them.
Finally, don’t forget to tell homeowners about the importance of sprinkler maintenance once the system is up and running. A single broken or missing sprinkler head can waste up to 25,000 gallons of water and more than $90 over a six-month irrigation season!
Four simple steps—inspect, connect, direct, and select—can keep a system running smoothly:
- Inspect the system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads and replace where necessary.
- Connect heads and hoses tightly to prevent water from pooling and ruining plants.
- Direct sprinklers away from driveways and sidewalks to water only the landscape.
- Select a watering schedule that is appropriate for the season, or better yet, use a WaterSense labeled controller.