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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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

 

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.

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.

Reducing water usage in Napa Valley — A Case Study

With a state of California mandate to reduce water usage by 25 percent, many communities and homeowners association agree reducing water usage helps cut costs and protects this precious commodity. However, there are varying opinions on how to best achieve water efficiency while protecting the plants during hot climates. How do you build consensus, keep a property aesthetically pleasing for residences, and conserve water?

Silverado Springs-29

Nestled in the beautiful, world-renown Napa Valley, Silverado Springs, a quaint upscale neighborhood was facing this dilemma. The community boosts lush greenbelts, lakes, tennis courts, a swimming pool and spa, and a variety of open spaces. It provides residents high-end, low maintenance living in the heart of wine country. For more than 20 years, Terracare Associates — TCA has grown to be a trusted partner to the community and homeowners association by supplying high-quality recommendations, expertise, and landscape services.

Silverado Springs-34

 

The Situation

In 2012, before the statewide mandate, Terracare Associates (TCA) was actively consulting with the Siverado on water management enhancement to prepare for higher water prices and expanded water restrictions in the region, the homeowners’ association was eager to become better environmental stewards too. They wanted to overhaul the community’s look from a lush landscape to a more regionally appropriate xeriscaped environment with drought-resistant plants. While the community and homeowners association at large agreed they needed to reduce water usage and cut costs – there were varying opinions on how to best irrigate and achieve water efficiency. They turned to TCA to educate the community while developing a solution and long-term plan to lower water usage and costs. It became a partnership with the goal to dramatically reduce usage while keeping property value and desirability high.

 

Over several months of TCA employees attending board meetings and forums, TCA was able to hear and address residents’ and the homeowners’ association’s concerns, explain best water conservation practices, and build consensus among residents and the homeowners association on how to best tackle the problem. TCA recommended and completed a project that included:

  • Installing new upgraded Smart Controllers, which adjust to optimal sprinkler run time based on the local weather conditions.
  • Converting large areas of the communities turf to drought resistant plants.
  • Updating more efficient MP nozzles on the turf that remained in the community. Replace all community medians holding turf with mulch and xeriscape.
  • Upgrading all current water nozzles to ensure efficiency.
  • Continuing to educate the community and HOA on other initiatives to further decrease water consumption.

Silverado Springs-18Silverado Springs-26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making an Impact

The project has been wildly successful and popular with the community. Residents have loved the transformation and new look. The homeowners association has been highly satisfied with the service quality and changes TCA recommended and provided. From 2012 to 2014, the community reduced water usage by 23.5% allowing the 2014 annual water expenses to come in more than $15,000 under budget. This initiative took place prior to California’s restrictions. The community was prepared for mandate and was able to maintain their desired aesthetics.

 

With ongoing maintenance, continued monitoring, adapting to a new norm of water usage, Silverado Springs has transformed to an eco-friendly and sustainable neighborhood.

 

Can TCA help your community or city improve your public service, or commercial and landscaping services? TCA would love to help you find out. Why not send TCA a request for proposal?

How to Save Water And Money – A Case Study

A Denver-area HOA partnered with Terracare Associates to save water and money for the community. 

 

Water, our precious commodity. When it rains, we may not think of the need to reduce water usage. Many commercial properties managers and communities in the western United States are engaging in tough conversations around water usage. Years of water restrictions and droughts are becoming more common. Conserving water and creating sustainable and environmentally friendly water features – even during rainier years – is a growing priority.

 

Commercial site managers, and municipalities and special districts are faced with tough decisions including property or area aesthetics, costs, and technology. It’s important to find the right balance between incorporating sustainable plants while also identifying and determining the most efficient and effective irrigation system technology. The irrigation system has to work effectively and instantly to make sure the landscape remains beautiful and pristine while only using water when needed.

Water cascading into a pond at Arapahoe Lakes

The goal?

Cut water use costs, lower the amount of water used, and create a more sustainable landscape.

 

The Arapahoe Lakes community and homeowners association (HOA) was faced with this dilemma. Situated in the South Metro Denver area of Colorado, the community encompasses a couple hundred family homes, a lake, a playground and a several miles of greenbelt walkways.

 

In 2009, the Arapahoe Lakes community and HOA wanted to take a proactive approach to being more responsible stewards of water – the community wanted to reduce water and cut costs. Arapahoe Lakes HOA turned to Terracare Associates – TCA, who had been a trusted and credible partner to Arapahoe Lake’s board members for more than 15 years, to help troubleshoot a solution.

 

The Solution

The solution included three players – Terracare Associates, Arapahoe Lakes HOA, and Denver Water. As Terracare Associates and Arapahoe Lakes HOA worked to develop an efficient and effective solution, Denver Water was also running a rebate incentive at the same time. Denver Water’s rebate program, the Irrigation Efficiency Agreement, provided payments to customers for water savings achieved as a result of making irrigation efficiency upgrades and/or landscape changes. Terracare Associates and Arapahoe Lakes HOA decided to maximize financial savings through both water usage and the rebate program. Arapahoe Lakes HOA received financial incentives on material costs associated with upgrading the irrigation system to include smart irrigation controllers and commercial irrigation high-efficiency or rotary nozzles.

 

The Results

Over five years, from 2010 to 2014, the Arapahoe Lakes HOA saved more than 9.3 million gallons in water, at a savings of more than $106,000. That’s huge!

 

Interested in learning more about how Terracare Associates can help you and your team manage your property? Drop us a note.

 

3 Reasons You Should Consider Turf Reduction Conversion

Silverado Springs-33From California to the Southwest, the drought conditions continue. As we suffer through yet another year of harsh climate, property managers will find it a challenge to keep turf grass green and healthy. In addition, higher water costs and frequent water restrictions have us reevaluating landscape maintenance options.

With no end to the drought in sight, we have to think more proactively of ways to landscape with less water. What can you do to: Continue reading “3 Reasons You Should Consider Turf Reduction Conversion”