The Benefits of Drip Irrigation

High summer heat can severely affect our trees, shrubs and turf grasses. With the climbing temperatures comes higher water costs. If you are a commercial property manager looking for ways to keep your landscape healthy and costs down, drip irrigation is your answer.

What is drip irrigation?

Drip irrigation is a low volume watering system that applies a small amount of water directly to plants over a period of time.

The benefits of drip irrigation:

Plant health

Landscape experts agree that low volume irrigation systems promote plant health by reducing changes in soil moisture levels. Drip irrigation can also be beneficial in avoiding plant diseases by limiting the amount of water on the plant’s foliage. A properly designed drip irrigation system will deliver water to your landscape at a uniform soil depth. This will bring the water to the root zone instead of to the surface of the planted area.

Water waste

Water is applied where it is most needed and is not wasted on unplanted areas or on streets and sidewalks.  Since the drip system is located closer to the root, little water is lost in evaporation. As a result, this process makes it extremely effective in controlling landscape water usage.

Maintenance costs

Another benefit of drip irrigation is lower maintenance costs. Because sprinkler systems can spray water onto unplanted areas, property managers must factor in the cost of eroded walkways and pavement, rotted wood fences, and peeling paint and plaster.

A properly designed and installed drip irrigation system can be a low cost and low maintenance option for many property owners. Contact the irrigation specialists at Terracare Associates to make healthy landscape changes that will meet all of your drip irrigation needs.

Drought Conditions? Try Xeriscaping

As a commercial property owner, you are always striving to keep your landscape in immaculate condition despite the circumstances. With projected drought conditions for much of the western United States, this will be a struggle. However, the idea of xeriscaping, which is, the practice of conserving water through strategic landscaping, may be your solution. While not a new concept, the increased frequencies of droughts and water scarcity has put a spotlight on the importance of xeriscape and its capabilities of reducing water while maintaining a beautiful and appealing landscape. Here are some of the benefits you can gain by incorporating xeriscaping practices into your property.

10NorthCityReclamationPlant_previewLessens Water Usage

When drought conditions are present, the main concern for any commercial landscape owner will be cutting back the usage of water. Property owners that chose to xeriscape will be able to reduce water usage as much as 70 percent. To make this reduction possible, begin with careful planning and designing of your landscape. This ensures that not only water efficiency is achieved, but also maximizes the survival of carefully chosen plants. It is also important to include correct mulch, rocks, and composted soil into your landscape plan. These steps will help reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation, which then limits water usage. Another vital xeriscape procedure is to choose plants that require low amounts of water. These plants can range from native plants to non-invasive plants that are well adapted to our local region’s climate. To learn more about native plant options click here.

Increases Property Value

One of the foremost concerns that will often arise when drought conditions are present is being able maintain an appealing landscape. The dryness and lack of water from the drought will unfortunately turn your property into dried out shades of yellow or brown. When the health and beauty of your landscape suffers, it can reflect poorly and may decrease the value of the property. However, a xeriscaped commercial property will offer a beautiful landscape year round.

What’s next?

Are you a commercial property owner in need of more information of xeriscaping or transitioning your landscape? Contact your Terracare expert for all your xeriscaping needs.

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2018 Summer Weather Predictions. Will your Region Experience a Drought?

Summer is almost here! Now is the perfect time to evaluate your region’s weather. By doing this now you can prepare for any restrictions and potential drought conditions in your area. For these forecasts, we chose to use The Farmer’s Almanac along with other accredited weather sources.

10NorthCityReclamationPlant_previewCalifornia:

California is projected to have warmer conditions that combined with dryness can pose a risk for wildfires and drought. The southwestern part of the state will surely will be affected by these conditions the most. Additionally, The Farmer’s Almanac states, “the hottest periods will be from late May into early June and in mid-June and mid-July”. Fortunately, rainfall should increase for the area from July to August and bring much needed relief to this region.

Colorado:

According to The Farmer’s Almanac, temperatures throughout Colorado will be “warm to hot” and “the hottest periods will be all of July and mid-August”. The biggest issue facing Colorado however is lack of snowfall from the previous winter. The Natural Resources Conservation Service says, “The state would need over 14,000 percent of its normal precipitation now to reach normal peak levels”.

Texas:

Texas is predicted to have a “very warm, average rainfall with plenty of thunderstorms” with “the hottest periods in mid-July and mid-August”. However, in spite of this rainfall, Texas currently has almost 50 percent of the state dealing with a drought that is still threatening to spread. In addition, the Texas Tribune says “six Texas cities already limit residents to two days a week of outdoor watering: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Lubbock and The Woodlands”.

Drought conditions may seem daunting especially for your commercial property’s landscape. It may be hard to keep up the appeal you want while adhering to mandatory water restrictions. However, they do not have to be. Each Thursday this month, we will be releasing articles on how to respond to these conditions. Terracare can also help you with any questions you have in the meantime.  If you have any questions please contact us below!

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5 Steps to Tune-Up Your Irrigation this Spring

The sun is out and shining, the weather is warming up and the ground is thawing out. There is no better time than springtime to ensure that your commercial landscape property’s sprinkler system is ready for the rest of the year. By following these few simple steps you will be able to save money, prevent water loss and avoid a mid- summer landscape disaster! Start your warm watering season off the right way by following these easy steps:

Lone Tree Plaza-21. Don’t Jump the Gun

By starting your property’s irrigation system too early, you risk damaging the pipes, especially if the ground is still too hard. It is important to make sure that the soil at your commercial property is not still frozen. To do this you will want to take your shovel and push it down at least twelve inches. If it’s tough to do so or the ground is rock solid, it is a good idea to wait a week and try again.

2. Check the Controller

Now is the time to evaluate the irrigation controls and programs of your irrigation systems. It has been months since your commercial property’s irrigation system has been used. Many things could have happened to the controls during the colder months. It is important to make sure that the date and time are accurate, the setting fits correctly and that the back-up battery is up to date. We suggest that your irrigation system’s back-up battery be replaced every six months for optimal use.

3. Unhindered Flow

Over the course of a winter, debris can cover up your commercial property’s sprinkler heads. If unchecked, substances such as dirt, branches or rocks can lead to wasted water and an unhealthy landscape. It is very important to thoroughly inspect the commercial property’s sprinkler heads and remove any barrier that may be blocking the spray.

Irrigation4. Replace Damaged Parts

Was one of your property’s sprinkler heads run over by a lawn mower? Perhaps a community dog is pulling out the sprinkler heads. Sprinkler heads and valves are made to endure normal wear and tear; however, it is best to be ready for the occasional mishap. Springtime is the perfect time to address and repair these broken irrigation parts. By doing this you can prevent over watering which will wreak havoc on your plants and your water bill. Contact Terracare Associates trained and certified irrigation technicians to schedule any irrigation concerns or repairs.

Schedule an Appointment.

5. Check the Pressure

Now it is time to turn the main water valve back on. However, it is crucial to ensure that the water pressure is at a safe operating range for your irrigation system. If your commercial landscape property’s irrigation system is too high it can result in damages. A few examples of the potential damages could include cracked pipes, busted valves, sprinkler head leaks and inefficient watering. To counterattack any of these damages we recommend having your system at an operating range between 40-65 PSI.

What’s Next?

At Terracare Associates, we recommend performing a regular irrigation system audit. Your irrigation systems should be regularly inspected for leaks, broken sprinkler heads, or other damaged components. During our regular inspections, we evaluate pressure and adjust it as needed so your sprinklers work at the optimal level to distribute the water. To schedule an audit from one of our trained irrigation techs please fill out the form below:

Free Irrigation Audit

Is Your Property’s Irrigation System Wasting Money?

It’s HOT!  Don’t send money down the drain! Your landscape provider can help you maintain and monitor your property’s automated irrigation system to ensure this is the most efficient way of watering your landscape. Having a properly maintained irrigation system is also one of the best ways to minimize water waste and lower overall watering costs.

Smart scheduling saves water

An irrigation controller can help monitor your system’s watering schedule to fit \ the watering needs of your property.  Here is what your landscape provider is looking to do:

  • Setting the timer for early in the morning or in the evening can minimize water evaporation by up to 30%.
  • irrigationA rain or soil moisture sensor controller to monitor and adjust your watering schedule regularly and based on seasonal weather conditions and other factors. Weather-based controllers automatically adjust the irrigation schedule as weather conditions change.
  • Consider the amount of sun, shade, and wind exposure on the plants and schedule individual zones to be most efficient. The type of soil will also affect how much water can be absorbed without runoff. The landscape provider will evaluate the setting to the irrigation system to run for three or four short intervals, allowing time between each for the water to soak more deeply into the soil.
  • Checking often on the sprinkler heads to ensure they are set properly to avoid watering driveways, sidewalks, or buildings.

 

Regular irrigation system maintenance saves water.

Like any other mechanical system, the irrigation system also needs regular maintenance to keep it working efficiently. Parts will break or wear out and must be replaced. An older system may not be able to handle the needs of a new landscape design or other changes to your property.

Retrofit the system with a rain or soil moisture sensor to prevent over watering. Rain sensors stop the system from operating when it rains; soil moisture sensors use long metal probes to measure moisture at the root zone and turn the system off when no additional water is needed, this is highly encouraged for water conservation practices.

At Terracare Associates, we recommend performing a regular irrigation system audit. Your irrigation systems should be regularly inspected for leaks, broken sprinkler heads, or other damaged components. During our regular inspections, we evaluate pressure and adjust it as needed so your sprinklers work optimally to distribute the water.

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Free Irrigation Audit

How to Improve Your Property’s Irrigation System on any Budget

Today, commercial property managers aim to have sustainable landscapes that enhance the look of their property without overusing precious resources, such as water.. Time and budget constraints can often limit plans to completely overhaul your landscape irrigation system. However, you might be able to make some of the needed improvements in incremental steps.

Implementing just a few of these suggestions each year can make a significant impact on your irrigation system, watering costs and your landscape’s appearance. Our staff at Terracare recommends the following solutions and best practices:

Step 1 – Simple and low cost solutions

  • Use mowers with mulching blades on turf areas– do not bag grass clippings or leaves.Coneflower
  • Implement an integrated pest management program
  • Mulch beds with 2-3 inches of organic material to prevent weeds and hold moisture near the root zone of the plants.
  • Use water-wise perennial and native plants
  • Perform turf aeration – pull plugs out of the soil throughout the turf to get more oxygen and water to the root system.
  • Install rain and freeze sensors on your irrigation system to avoid unwanted or unsafe watering.
  • Perform regular irrigation system check-ups, looking broken sprinkler heads, clogged lines and other problem areas.

Step 2 –Moderate cost solutions

  • Sub-metering your irrigation system will allow you to better track water usage and remove water waste costs from your irrigation bill.
  • Shred and reuse all organic materials and landscape trimmings as mulch or compost.
  • Conduct an irrigation audit to determine your water usage.
  • Replace rotor spray nozzles with stream spray nozzles to reduce water runoff.

 

Step 3 – High impact solutions

Some solutions cost more, however, the long-term gains in efficiencies, water conservation and significant reductions in water costs is well worth the investment.

  • Install a drip irrigation system throughout the property Drip system
  • Consider an irrigation supply system that uses captured rainwater, gray water or onsite treated waste water.
  • Install an ET controller, equipped with weather station monitoring – this better controls when and how much the irrigation system operates.

These are just a few suggestions that you can implement to improve your irrigation system.

For more information about ways you can make improvements on your landscape irrigation system, contact Terracare Associates by visiting our website.

Terracare Associates’ irrigation experts are state-licensed technicians, trained to provide watering programs based on the varying needs of plants and planting environments. We design irrigation programs that are tailored to the client’s water use budget, while protecting their landscape investments.

Free Irrigation Audit

 

Tips for Water Wise Landscaping

After an unusually warm and dry winter in many parts of the country, it’s more important than ever to conserve water as summer approaches. What can you do to save your lawn and save money on your monthly water bill? Here are a few easy tips to help you be more water wise with your landscaping.

Drip systemPrevent water evaporation: Water your lawn early in the morning or in the evening, especially during the hot summer months. Never water on windy days. Use drip irrigation systems for bedded plants, trees, or shrubs and use low-angle sprinklers for lawns. Also, be sure to cover pools and spas to prevent loss of water through evaporation.

One inch of water is enough: Just one inch of water each week will keep most grasses healthy. To determine how long you should run your sprinklers — place straight-edged cans at various distances away from each sprinkler and time how long it takes to fill an average of 1 inch of water in each can.

MulchMulch… Mulch… Mulch!: Cover all flower beds and planted areas with mulch. It keeps the soil moist and slows down the evaporation of water from the soil, allowing water to infiltrate it efficiently. Maintain at least a 2 to 4 inch layer of mulch in all planted beds and containers.

Maintain your sprinkler system: Repair any broken, missing or misdirected sprinkler heads. You should also install rain and freeze sensors on your sprinkler system and monitor your total water usage.

Terracare Associates can help with any of your landscaping needs from installing a more efficient irrigation system to laying down mulch in your plant beds. Visit our website to see what we can do for you.

Free Irrigation Audit

The Three Biggest Landscaping Trends for 2017

Environmentally friendly landscaping practices have been growing in popularity for many years, and 2017 is no exception. The biggest landscaping trends this year focus on protecting the environment and preserving local resources.

  1. NaturescapingNaturescaping

Naturescaping is a landscape concept that involves selecting plants for your property that grow naturally in the area.  Since these types of plants are already evolved to grow under local conditions, the landscaping does not need to be drastically changed to suit them. Not only is this type of landscaping low maintenance, it is environmentally friendly because it requires less watering, less pesticide use and less fertilizer.

  1. Water conservation

Regulating water use is a top priority during drought conditions, but water conservation tends to slip people’s minds when precipitation levels return to normal. However, water regulations are becoming the new norm year-round due to unpredictable weather conditions across the United States. Choosing drought-resistant plants for your property can drastically reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation. Drip irrigation is another great way to accomplish this. Drip irrigation drips water slowlyDrip system onto the roots of a plant through a system of pipes and valves, rather than saturating plants with a sprinkler system. This minimizes nutrient loss and greatly increases the efficiency of watering. The simplest way to conserve water is to reduce unnecessary water usage before it happens by regularly checking irrigation equipment for leaks and cracks.

 

  1. Technical advances in irrigation

New technology is constantly being developed to help landscapers and property owners more easily and effectively manage irrigation on their properties. One of the most popular innovations is wireless irrigation controllers that run on Wi-Fi. These are used in conjunction with rain sensors, so they can track weather trends in the area and soil moisture levels to detect how much water needs to be dispensed on your property.

Visit our website website to learn how Terracare Associates can help you and your properties keep up with the latest landscaping trends.

What is Sustainable Landscaping?

The term ‘sustainable’ is everywhere, but what does it mean to our landscapes? The common perception is that sustainability in the landscape means drought resistant spaces that require little or no additional water, which are maintained with an unkempt aesthetic and mulched with rock. This is completely inaccurate. Sustainable landscapes get a bad rap because they are often installed improperly, and almost always misunderstood. There is a much more meaningful, and appealing approach to sustainable landscaping that is generally unknown.

So what are the main characteristics of a proper sustainable landscape? Sustainable landscaping

Sustainable landscapes are planned as complex ecosystems. Similar to nature, sustainable landscapes (also called regenerative landscapes) consider even the smallest niches to ensure the health and function of the complete system. These considerations start at the soil, move through the plant canopy and touch everything in between.

While they do generally require less water than a traditional landscape, the reality is more nuanced. They are designed with specific features and species that are able to thrive in the ecosystem in which they are placed. We have all seen soggy spots and dry spots in our own yards. Sustainable landscapes address these features as separate microclimates that require different materials. The soggy spots would house plants that require more water, while the dry spots would be populated with species acclimated to more arid conditions.

Soil Health

Sustainable landscapes place a high priority on soil health. Without healthy soil you cannot have a healthy ecosystem. Regenerative landscapes add organic matter and soil biology to the soil. Critters like bacteria, fungi and other microbial creatures are the most important part of the soil. These creatures and the soil they create are the “immune system” of the planet. Regenerative landscapes passively build soil health as they mature, strengthening the entire system.

NatSustainable landscapingive Plants

Native plant species are another big part of regenerative landscapes. Natives are perfectly adapted to local conditions like precipitation, temperatures, pests and seasonal changes. If natives don’t pack enough punch for your space, many great cultivars have been developed for superior color and foliage displays.

 

What can sustainable landscapes be?

Sustainable landscapes can be anything. They can carry almost any aesthetic; natural and wild looking, or clean and compartmentalized. -Even with the same plant palette. They can display blocks of color, or show off muted textures. Turf can also be installed and maintained sustainably. Harvard Yard has been doing it that way for years!

The quickest way to build a truly sustainable landscape is to start from the beginning, but with enough foresight and thought, existing landscapes can be transitioned to a regenerative space.

Pockets can be carved out of a commercial landscape to keep the budget under control, or entire campuses can be transitioned to make a bold statement to your clients and your employees.

If you need direction for your regenerative landscape, reach out. Let’s see what Terracare Associates and your organization can build together.

 

A Quick-and-Simple Guide to Xeriscape

Xeriscape landscaping can be the most efficient and effective method for commercial properties, municipal parks, and cities to achieve water use reduction and reduce costs. Xeriscape has been cited as reducing outdoor water use by as much as 70 percent. While not a new concept, the increased frequencies of droughts and water scarcity has put a spotlight on the importance of xeriscape and its capabilities of reducing water while maintaining a beautiful and appealing landscape.

 

What is xeriscape?

Xeriscape is a set of water-wise landscaping and water conservation principles. It’s the idea of maintaining both an appealing landscape through introducing low-water-use plants.

 

Here are the fundamentals of xeriscape.

Plan and Design

Planning and designing the landscape will help ensure the new plants and overall xeriscape will not only survive, but thrive. Talk with your landscape contractor about the function of the landscaped area, sun exposure, and overall goal of the project.

  • Function: What function will the new xeriscaped area serve? For instance, if you need to keep a grass turf area in your park, how do you balance this need while incorporating drought-resistant plants? Your commercial landscape professional can help determine how to incorporate function and new design into your landscape.
  • Sun: Consider how much sun each section of the xeriscape will receive. Will it be morning, afternoon, or all-day sun? The amount and time of sun exposure will affect the types of plants selected.
  • Goal: What’s the overall goal of the project? Do you need to drastically reduce water usage or looking to make the maintenance of the overall property easier and more affordable? Discuss your goals with your landscape provider who will be able to provide appropriate suggestions and tips.

 

Soil

Depending on the soil quality, soil amendments might be necessary before planting. Soil changes can enable the soil to better absorb water. It’s notable though that not all xeric plants will need rich soil. Soil in all areas will need to be loosened before planting.

 

Plants

Xeriscaping utilizes the concept of zones – grouping plants together with similar water needs. Where you are located and how dry your climate and landscape are will dictate which plants will thrive in the landscape. Consult your landscape professional for help with selecting appropriate plants.

 

Irrigation

Not all areas of your landscape need the same amount of water. Design irrigation zones to fit the needs of the plants within designated zones. Turf areas will need more water compared to low-water-use plants. This approach will help save water and properly care for each plant. Remember to keep irrigation maintained to ensure optimum efficiency. Your landscape professional can help identify how much water is needed for each area and which irrigation methods will be most useful.

 

Mulch

As we’ve discussed in our previous post on mulch (How this 1 surprising landscape enhancement can revive your property), mulch is any type of material -usually natural – serving as a cover and is spread over the soil. Not only does it help suppress weeds and improve soil quality, it can help insulate plants and minimize water evaporation and greatly improving water usage.

 

Contact your landscape professional to assess how to turn the landscape you manage into a xeriscape landscape.