I’m a big proponent of doing my own research and drawing my own conclusions before believing a claim or making a purchase. Maybe I’m becoming a smarter shopper, or perhaps just more stubborn, but I’m the sort that has to be shown hard evidence before I’ll buy — or buy into — anything. I guess it’s all that experience making bad purchases (or decisions) and then having to live with the consequences.

If you want to sell me something nowadays, you better be able to prove its value to me. Well, such an occurrence happened recently when was at the Irrigation Association’s Fairfax, Virginia, offices.

Brent Mecham, IA industry development director, led the staff in a demonstration of an irrigation audit. About 20 of us gathered outside on a grassy picnic area at the corporate office park in late July for the demonstration, which also included audience participation.

First, we were assigned to find all the sprinkler heads and mark their locations with flags. Next, we inserted catch-can holders in the ground an equal distance apart in seven rows of five and placed 36 catch cans into the holders. Then we watched and tried to stay dry for 15 minutes as the sprinklers were run.

When the 15 minutes were up, it was time to record the results. Each catch can’s volume was written down on a worksheet. We took an average, plugged that number into some equations and calculated a low average quarter, a high average quarter, the net precipitation rate and the overall distribution uniformity. Those results help determine the optimal run time.

This system didn’t require too much adjustment, except for one sprinkler that was spraying a metal sign, but it did teach me how valuable an irrigation audit can be. For your clients with older systems or dry spots, an irrigation audit would go a long way toward identifying and fixing problems.

It might even save them money. If you’re like me and need to see the benefits for yourself, then I encourage you to learn how to perform an irrigation audit. You’ll become a believer as I now am.

Irrigation contractors will find many helpful tips and articles throughout Irrigation & Green Industry magazine, which is now a monthly benefit to all IA landscaping industry members. Members can email christinephelps@irrigation.org to opt out.