Landscape Logic column: Smart ways to fix your water bill
If you have a typical Colorado household, you expect your water bill to go up in the summer. That’s when we tend to shower more often, have more clothes to wash due to summer activities — and of course, when our thirsty plants need more drinks and more often.
July, as the hottest month, brings the biggest drain on our water and financial resources. That makes it a good month to think seriously about ways to save water and thereby, cut the water bill.
Three components to consider
How water reaches your plants — whether it’s the lawn or the petunias — is the most basic element of a sprinkler system. The efficiency of that delivery process will either save or waste water.
Efficiencies lie in the sprinkler heads themselves, the small components called “nozzles” and the use of drip irrigation.
Sprinkler heads that spray water too high or that appear to be misting are wasting water and money. Likewise, when water seeps out of the heads after the watering cycle stops, those heads are also wasting water.
What’s the solution? Newer technology has given us sprinklers that control water pressure — and even the size of the water droplets — so that the water lands where it needs to without misting and floating away in the breeze. In techie terms, it’s called “pressure regulation.”
Another water saver in newer sprinkler heads is a simple check valve that’s part of the design.
This component will keep water from draining out of the last sprinkler that’s at the bottom of a slope. It’s a small piece of engineering that brings big savings.
Don’t forget the nozzles
These are the tiny parts at the top of the sprinkler heads. Depending on the nozzles you have, you will either use or save a lot of water.
By retrofitting existing heads with more efficient nozzles, you can cut water use by 30 percent and this often qualifies for rebates from water providers. Do the math: this one upgrade might pay for itself in no time.
Save water one drip at a time
With drip irrigation, water never floats away in the breeze or runs down the gutter.
It goes right to the root zone of the plant where it is needed most — and that makes drip the most efficient way to water every plant in the yard — except the lawn. Converting spray heads to drip irrigation is a strategic way to cut your water bill.
Keep up with the maintenance
Even with newer, better technology, sprinkler systems are still mostly made of mechanical parts. Sprinklers get out of adjustment, underground sprinkler lines can crack and leak, and valves that direct water throughout the system can break.
Periodically turn on the system and watch it run. Make the adjustments and repairs to keep the system operating efficiently. Your plants will love you for it.
Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.