The foundation of smart irrigation always starts with design, says Michael Brown, a certified Texas Landscape Professional and licensed irrigator for The Grass Is Greener Landscape Inc., San Antonio. Quality design means keeping plant needs and soil types at the top of the priority list, while using the latest in technology research tools to review current environmental data. The data needs to be used to calculate application and irrigation utilization rates to minimize overwatering to prevent ongoing unnecessary waste.
“Proper design and installation are always the beginning of our smart irrigation practices,” says Brown. “We also use smart controllers with weather stations and most of our commercial properties are on a remote monitoring system so we can get daily reports of each zone’s activity. Some of our systems are integrated with flow sensors as well.”
The company uses monthly analysis of each contracted customer to provide adjustments and identify current or possible upcoming issues.
“We provide our clients onsite walkthrough training after each installation and repair to show them how their new smart irrigation features and tools work,” says Brown. “We also provide a laminated bullet-point plan of action for their specific site and hang it by their controller. Any other issues that might come up after that we handle during our monthly analysis.”
Working with Texas municipalities and state organizations are key to industry success, whether it is for smart or sustainable irrigation, he says.
“In my opinion, sustainable irrigation is an application product that is so fine-tuned and filled with the proper data and technology that it can automatically adjust the water needs for the plant and soil type in a specific area based off the most current environmental changes,” says Brown.
Setting the tone for smart and sustainable landscaping in Texas are the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and, closer to Brown, the San Antonio Irrigation Association. Brown’s team has met with San Antonio Water Systems and with city plumbing inspectors and have assisted in writing ordinances and controller programming schedules, community outreach to end users, community outreach to industry professionals, creating rebates for upgrading and conversions of older irrigation systems up to the latest technology.
The city also created a San Antonio Water Systems rebate program that allows customers to receive monetary or product assistance to help them pay for upgrading their outdoor spaces to a more water-friendly environment. These partnerships and programs help the Texas landscaping industries overcome its constant challenge.“Here in San Antonio we are considered one of the nation’s leaders in water conservation,” Brown says. “We are proud to be a green industry provider and take action on water conservation all year round, not just during the summers.”