Irrigation System Design and Installation Introduction

Many people desire the convenience and flexibility of an automatic, in-ground irrigation system and many large properties simply cannot be effectively irrigated manually without a substantial amount of labor.  A properly designed, installed, and maintained automatic irrigation system can provide appropriate applications of water across a landscape as well as convenience to the residents.

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Best Practices

The Irrigation Association, which is the trade association of the irrigation industry, has identified five best management practices (BMPs) related to irrigation systems.  The IA’s five Turf and Landscape Irrigation Best Management Practices include:  Landscape_roots_pipe 

Assure the overall quality of the irrigation system. This best practice requires that the irrigation system is designed to be efficient and uniformly distribute water. The system must be installed according to design specifications. The system must also be well maintained. The irrigation schedule must be managed to maximize water efficiency.

Design the irrigation system for the efficient and uniform distribution of water. The designer must consider site-specific criteria such as soil type, slope, root depth, plant materials, microclimates, weather conditions and water source. The designer must select equipment that meets state and local codes.

Install the irrigation system to meet the design criteria. The system should be installed according to the designed specifications, manufacturers’ specifications and local and state regulations. The system should have good distribution uniformity. The irrigation contractor and / or installer should be licensed and insured.

Maintain the irrigation system for optimum performance. The irrigation system should be well maintained. The goal of the maintenance is to sustain the system’s efficiency and distribution uniformity. The irrigation contractor and /or installer should be licensed and insured.

Manage the irrigation system to respond to the changing requirement for water in the landscape. The irrigation schedule should be changed to provide an efficient amount of supplemental water to maintain a healthy landscape.Sidewalk geyser

Regulations for New Construction

Water utilities and building departments can promote “water smart from the start’ landscaping by encouraging certification of landscape professionals. Properly designed and installed irrigations systems should be more water efficient than under-designed and poorly installed systems. Building departments can also support certification for landscape irrigation professionals. These requirements can function in concert since trained and certified professionals are in the best position to design and install water efficient landscapes and irrigation systems that meet mandated standards.  

Promoting certification of landscape professionals is greatly simplified by the WaterSense Certification offered by the US EPA which accredits programs such as the Irrigation Association’s training courses.  An entity such as a city, county, or state can specify that all landscapes must be designed and installed by a WaterSense certified professional.