AMWUA Blog

Jul 01 2019Share

Smart Irrigation Brings Wiser Water Use

By Warren Tenney

More than half the drinking water used in the Valley is used outdoors, primarily to irrigate landscapes. Establishing a lovely yard that is water efficient in the desert can be achieved in a few easy steps. A key component is learning how to use your automated irrigation controller to optimize your water use for maximum health, beauty and efficiency in your yard.

The effectiveness of an automated irrigation controller is directly related to the knowledge of the person setting the controls.  To keep any established desert-adapted landscape thriving, the controller needs to be set to water infrequently but deeply. People who are not use to daily sunshine think they need to water their trees, cactus and shrubs a little every day. It’s a common practice that wastes water and actually does more harm than good to the plants. AMWUA cities offer homeowners free classes, publications and videos to help.

To further educate and promote the importance of efficient irrigation we are now kicking off Smart Irrigation Month. Every July, the Irrigation Association leads this initiative to highlight both the economic and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation technologies, products and services available in landscape irrigation.

“Smart” irrigation systems ensure proper irrigation of landscapes without wasting water. These systems use technology to know when and how much to irrigate so you don’t have to. The days of being beholden to a clock and calendar are over. We are now using real-time data to apply the right amount of water at the right time of day.

By investing in smart irrigation technologies, you can be sure to save water, money and time in caring for your landscape. Here are three irrigation technologies worth considering on your next upgrade:

Weather-based controller. These controllers adjust the irrigation schedule based on local weather conditions. There is a wide range of products in this category with various weather inputs and landscape-specific adjustment factors. These controllers self-adjust and require very little intervention when programmed correctly.

Sensor-based controller. These controllers rely on soil moisture sensors placed below ground in the root zones of the landscape to determine if and for how long to water. Systems with a sensor-based controller can be scheduled to run based on soil moisture and the specific water needs of your landscape.

Rain/freeze sensors. Irrigating in rain and freezing conditions needlessly wastes water and can damage your landscape. Rain sensors prevent irrigation systems from running during rainy conditions like monsoon season. Rain/freeze sensors add the ability to stop irrigation when temperatures approach freezing to prevent damage to the plants. These devices can reduce overall water usage and help extend irrigation system life.

Regardless of what type of controller you may have, it is important to note that plant watering needs to vary based on a number of factors. Regularly adjusting your irrigation schedule is easy, and the frequency should be adjusted at least four times a year to account for those differences in seasonal watering needs.

There are plenty of resources to help you water your landscape wisely and the AMWUA communities have professional conservation staff dedicated to helping you water your landscape efficiently. In the end we just want everyone to practice Smart Irrigation.


Sign up for AMWUA’s free WHENTOWATER text alerts. Text WHENTOWATER to 33222 and on the first day of each month you will receive a link to a handy, simple-to-read watering chart for everything in your yard from trees to annuals.


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