Professional Practice

Improving Water Efficiency: Residential drip Irrigation

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Drip irrigation system in a landscape design / Turf Magazine

More than 9 billion gallons of water a day is used outdoors in the U.S., primarily for residential landscape irrigation. Inefficient irrigation methods account for up to 50 percent of water wasted outdoors. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “if the average sized lawn in the United States is watered for 20 minutes every day for 7 days, it’s like running the shower constantly for 4 days or taking more than 800 showers. That’s equivalent to the amount of water needed for the average family to take 1 years’ worth of showers.”

Drip irrigation systems provide water through slow application directly at plants’ root zones, avoiding excess watering while keeping the roots at optimum moisture level. Residential drip irrigation systems reduce over-watering, evaporation, runoff, and deep percolation of water. Drip irrigation is a cost-efficient means of improving water efficiency.

Unlike other irrigation systems, drip irrigation is adaptable to any landscape and requires minimal maintenance. These  systems are predominantly used in agriculture and nurseries, but can also be used in residential landscapes for vegetable and perennial gardens. Studies show landscape irrigation smart controllers that monitor soil moisture to determine the amount of water needed can also help homeowners avoid over-watering.

Source: Irrigation Controllers, Environmental Protection Agency; Water Conservation Potential of Landscape Irrigation Smart Controllers, M. D. Dukes, University of Florida; Water Stats, Environmental Protection Agency

Research

Drip Irrigation in the Home Landscape,” Larry Schwankl and Terry Prichard, Regents of the University of California, 2015

"Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates," Robert Kourik, Metamorphic Press, 2009

"Basic Landscape Irrigation," Neil W. Johnson, Vignettes Publishing, 2009

Greywater, Green Landscape: How to Install Simple, Water-Saving Irrigation Systems in Your Yard,” Laura Allen, Storey Publishing, 2017

Resources

Water-Smart Landscape Irrigation Methods, Environmental Protection Agency

Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, Rain Bird

Energy Efficient Homes, University of Florida

Government Resources

Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, California Department of Water Resources, 2015

Guidelines for Landscape Drip Irrigation Systems, Arizona Landscape Irrigation Guidelines Committee

Irrigation Guidelines, City of Cary, North Carolina

Projects

Water Calculation and Poetic Interpretation, Monterey Cypress, California
Arterra Landscape Architects

Mill Creek Ranch, Vanderpool, Texas
Ten Eyck Landscape Architects Inc.

Brooklyn Oasis, Brooklyn, New York
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

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