Irrigation Systems in Seattle: The Key to a Thriving and Sustainable Landscape
Seattle Sustainable Landscapes’ irrigation services include but are not limited to:
- Full design and installation of a new system, water-efficient sprinklers, and drip irrigation
- Spring start ups
- Seasonal Maintenance and
- Irrigation repairs and Add-ons
- Conversion to Drip Irrigation, Spray Rotator heads, Smart Controllers
How to install an Irrigation System
To install a professional-grade irrigation system for your home in Seattle, it’s generally recommended to hire a professional. However, if you prefer to do it yourself, here are the steps to follow:
- Design the irrigation system: Begin by creating a plan of your property, including the locations of your plants, trees, and shrubs. Based on the size of your property, soil type, and watering needs of your plants, determine the type and size of irrigation system you need.
- Choose the right materials: Choose high-quality materials, such as PVC pipes, fittings, and sprinklers. Make sure they are compatible with your irrigation system design.
- Install the main supply pipe: The main supply pipe carries water from the water source to the sprinklers and is usually made of PVC. It should be buried at least 12 inches below ground level.
- Install the sprinklers: Place the sprinklers around your property according to your design plan, making sure they are positioned to evenly water your plants. For water efficiency, we recommend spray rotators and drip lines.
- Connect the sprinklers to the main supply pipe: Use PVC pipes and fittings to connect the sprinklers to the main supply pipe.
- Install the control system: The control system allows you to turn the irrigation system on and off and adjust the watering schedule. Options include manual controls, automatic timers, and smart irrigation systems that can be controlled remotely. For optimal efficiency, we recommend smart controllers that automatically react to weather and adjust to heat and rain.
- Test the system: Once everything is installed, test the system to ensure it’s working properly. Adjust the sprinklers and control system as needed.
Installing an irrigation system can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive project, but it can save you time and effort in the long run by automating the watering of your plants and maintaining a healthy landscape in Seattle.
Spray Rotators vs. Traditional Sprayers
A traditional sprayer and a spray rotator are two types of sprinklers that are commonly used in irrigation systems. Here is a brief explanation of the difference between the two:
- Traditional sprayer: A traditional sprayer is a type of sprinkler that produces a single jet or mist of water that is sprayed over a wide area. These sprinklers are often used to water larger areas – Typically in lawns.
- Spray rotator: A spray rotator is a type of sprinkler that rotates as it sprays water over an area. These sprinklers typically have a nozzle or spray arm that rotates in a circular motion, spraying water in a circular pattern. Spray rotators are significantly more water efficient manufacturers claim a 30% savings as the tight streams do not lose moisture to the wind and heat as opposed to the mist that comes from a traditional sprayer.
A traditional sprayer is an old technology that served it’s purpose for decades but the time as come to move over to spray rotators. They are a significantly better option for lawns. We typically recommend drip irrigation for plants as that is the most efficient way to get the correct amount of water to the roots. Sprayers of all types get blocked by plants near the heads and often do not distribute the water to the roots, it lands on the leaves and other areas. The best type of sprinkler will be a combination of either drip or Spray Rotator or both depending on the needs of your plants and the size and layout of your landscaping.
Winterization of Sprinkler System
Winterizing a sprinkler system is an important task that will help protect your system from damage caused by freezing temperatures. Typically, these are scheduled in the Pacific Northwest after the rain starts consistently falling and the plants no longer need supplement support. Or at the latest before the frost comes. In Seattle in 2022 that only left us about a 3 week period from Late October to early November. Typically, we have a longer range of moderate temperate & rainy fall.
To optimize your sprinkler system for the winter season in Seattle, it’s important to follow these steps:
- Turn off the water supply by closing the valve that controls the flow of water to the system.
- Drain the water from the pipes and sprinkler heads by using compressed air to blow out the system. This process should be repeated for each valve and zone.
- Find the main valve that controls the flow of water to the system and turn it off.
- If you have a smart controller, use the app on your phone to turn it off. Traditional controllers can be manually set to the off position.
- If there are any exposed pipes, cover them with insulation or wrap them with heat tape to prevent them from freezing.
- The backflow preventer should be buried deep enough to be safe, but if it is not, cover it with insulation or wrap it with heat tape to prevent it from freezing.
- If your sprinkler system has a pump, make sure to drain and disconnect it before storing it for the winter. The same goes for water features with pumps.
By following these steps, you can prevent damage to your sprinkler system caused by freezing temperatures and ensure that it’s ready to use in the spring. It’s often worth hiring professionals with the proper equipment and expertise to winterize your sprinkler system.
Spring Startup for Sprinkler Systems in Seattle
Starting up a sprinkler system in the spring is essential to ensuring the proper care of your lawn and garden in the Greater Seattle area. Follow these steps to start up your system and make sure it is functioning properly:
- Turn on the water supply to the system. This can usually be done by opening the valve that controls the flow of water to the system.
- Reset your automatic control panel, if applicable. This is typically done through your irrigation app with a Smart controller.
- Activate the main valve that controls the flow of water to the system.
- Manually test each zone of your system to ensure that the sprinkler heads are functioning properly.
- Check that your system’s backflow preventer is functioning correctly.
- If your system has a pump, make sure it is properly connected and functioning.
By following these steps and regularly checking your system throughout the season, you can ensure that your sprinkler system is properly watering your lawn and garden in Seattle’s variable weather. This will help maintain a healthy, vibrant landscape all season long.
Irrigation and the Environment: How to Implement Sustainable Solutions for Your Garden’s Watering Needs
Water usage is a hot topic when it comes to irrigation and landscaping. In general, less is more when it comes to sustainability in watering, with that being said, there are factors that add a bit of complexity to that. For instance, in a rehabilitation effort, even native plants need supplemental water after being moved. And what about the sustainability of your personal life – there is something to be said for living in a lush, beautiful environment.
Here will discuss some options including designing your landscape in a way that doesn’t need as much water, building more water-efficient irrigation systems, storing water, and some alternatives to irrigation.
Designing an Efficient Irrigation System
There are several steps you can take to make your irrigation system more water-efficient:
- Check for leaks: Regularly inspect your irrigation system for leaks or broken components, and fix them promptly to avoid water waste. Consider joining an annual irrigation maintenance plan to stay on top of potential issues.
- Use drought-tolerant plants: Choose plants that are well-suited to your climate and soil conditions and are able to survive dry periods. Drought-tolerant plants will require less irrigation, reducing water usage. Native plants are a key component of sustainable landscaping.
- Use a soil moisture sensor: A soil moisture sensor can help you determine when your plants need water and when they are sufficiently hydrated, avoiding over-watering. Some companies offer sensors throughout the Seattle area that can help with this.
- Use a smart irrigation controller: A smart irrigation controller can optimize your irrigation schedule based on factors like weather, plant type, and soil moisture levels, ensuring your plants receive the right amount of water at the right time. Rachio is a popular brand for smart controllers, as they have moisture sensors throughout the Seattle area and eliminate the need for step 3.
- Use a drip irrigation system: Drip irrigation systems deliver water directly to the roots of plants, minimizing water waste and evaporation. They are especially useful for plants that require frequent watering, such as vegetables or herbs.
- Use spray rotators: Spray rotators use about 30% less water for your lawn, helping to conserve resources.
By following these steps, you can make your irrigation system more water-efficient and use water responsibly in your landscaping. This helps to conserve resources, protect the environment, and keep your plants healthy.
Alternatives to Irrigation
Xeriscaping for Environmental Benefits
Xeriscaping is a landscaping method that uses drought-resistant plants and other techniques to conserve water and reduce the need for irrigation. Here are some ways that xeriscaping can benefit the environment:
- Water conservation: Xeriscaping can help to save water by decreasing the need for irrigation, which is particularly important in areas with limited water resources or during droughts.
- Reduced water usage: In addition to conserving water, xeriscaping can also reduce the overall amount of water used for landscaping by using drought-resistant plants and other water-saving methods.
- Low maintenance: Xeriscaping often requires less maintenance than traditional landscaping, as drought-resistant plants are usually more resilient and need less care. This can help to reduce the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals that can harm the environment.
- Habitat creation: Xeriscaping can also create a habitat for wildlife by using native plants that are suited to the local climate and soil conditions. This can help to support biodiversity and maintain healthy ecosystems.
- Carbon sequestration: Xeriscaping can also help to sequester carbon by using plants that absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This can help to reduce the effects of climate change and promote a healthier environment.
Overall, xeriscaping is a sustainable and eco-friendly approach to landscaping that can conserve water, reduce water usage, create habitat for wildlife
The Benefits and Limitations of Water Cisterns for Irrigation
Water cisterns are large containers used to store water for irrigation or other purposes. They can be a good option for irrigation because they allow you to save water during times of plenty for later use. However, there are also some limitations to using water cisterns for irrigation, including:
- Storage limitations: Water cisterns require a significant amount of space to store, which may not be practical for people with limited space or those living in areas with limited space for installation. For example, a cistern capable of storing enough water to adequately water a 500 sq ft lawn or vegetable garden in the summer (about 300 gallons per week) would need to be quite large.
- Liability: Water cisterns can also create liability issues if they are not properly maintained. A cistern that is not properly sealed or that develops a leak can create a safety hazard or damage property. In addition, if the water in the cistern becomes contaminated, it can pose a health hazard.
Overall, while water cisterns can be a useful tool for irrigation, it is important to consider their storage and liability limitations before deciding to install one.
Pros and Cons of Artificial Turf Lawns
Artificial turf lawns offer a low-maintenance alternative to natural grass, but they also have some drawbacks to consider. Here are the main benefits and drawbacks of artificial turf lawns:
- Low maintenance: Artificial turf does not need mowing, watering, or fertilizing, which can save time and money.
- Durability: Artificial turf is resistant to wear and tear and can withstand heavy use without showing damage.
- All-weather: Artificial turf can be used year-round and is not affected by extreme weather conditions such as drought or frost.
- Pet-friendly: Artificial turf is a good surface for pets to play with and use the bathroom on, and it is easy to clean.
- Kid-friendly: Artificial turf is a safe and durable play surface for kids.
- Water conservation: Artificial turf does not require irrigation, which can save water and reduce water bills.
- Initial cost: Artificial turf may be more expensive to install than natural grass, especially for large areas.
- Environmental impact: Artificial turf is made from synthetic materials, which may not be as environmentally friendly as natural grass, but they do help with water usage. It turns out sustainability can be somewhat complicated and nuanced.
- Heat absorption: Artificial turf can absorb and retain heat, making it uncomfortable to walk on in hot weather.
- Lack of natural appearance: Artificial turf may not look as natural as real grass and may not provide the same aesthetic value.
- Limited uses: Artificial turf may not be suitable for activities that require a softer surface, or certain sports.
When deciding whether artificial turf is a good option for your yard, consider which factors are most important to you.
Sustainability Comparison of Artificial Turf and Natural Grass Lawns
The sustainability of artificial turf compared to natural grass depends on various factors such as the type of grass, the climate, and maintenance practices. Here are some things to consider when evaluating the sustainability of artificial turf versus natural grass:
- Water usage: Artificial turf does not need irrigation, which can save water and reduce water bills. However, natural grass may be drought-resistant and may not need frequent watering in some climates.
- Maintenance: Artificial turf does not need mowing or fertilizing, which can save time and resources. However, natural grass may require less maintenance if it is allowed to grow longer and is not mowed as frequently.
- Carbon footprint: The production and transportation of artificial turf may have a larger carbon footprint than natural grass due to the synthetic materials and energy required to manufacture and transport the turf.
- Environmental impacts: Artificial turf may not provide the same environmental benefits as natural grass, such as filtering pollutants and producing oxygen. Natural grass may also provide a habitat for insects and other wildlife.
The sustainability of artificial turf versus natural grass will depend on the specific conditions and practices in your area. Artificial turf may be more sustainable in certain situations, such as in areas with extreme weather or high water usage, or for specific purposes such as sports fields that need heavy use. In other cases, natural grass may be more sustainable, especially if it is well-maintained and not overwatered or over-fertilized.
Irrigation Enhancement or Repair
One thing that we love to do is repurpose existing Sprinkler Systems. Reusing an existing system and updating it with smart controllers, drip lines and spray rotators is a fantastic way to utilize existing materials and reduce water usage.
The Benefits of Repairing a Sprinkler System
There are several reasons why it can be more beneficial to repair an existing sprinkler system rather than replace it with a new one:
- Cost-effective: Repairing a system is usually more affordable than installing a new one, especially if the current system is relatively new and only requires minor repairs.
- Sustainable: Repairing an existing system is more environmentally friendly than replacing it, as it reduces waste and the resources needed to manufacture and install a new system.
- Familiarity: If you are already familiar with your current system, it may be easier and faster to make repairs rather than learning how to use a new system.
- Customization: Your existing system may be more tailored to your specific watering needs and landscape than a pre-designed new system.
- Preservation of established plants: If your current system has been properly watering your plants, replacing it could potentially harm established plants that are accustomed to the current watering schedule.
Overall, while replacing a sprinkler system may sometimes be necessary, repairing an existing system can be a more cost-effective, sustainable, and familiar option.
The Advantages of Using Drip Irrigation Systems
There are many benefits to using drip irrigation systems, including:
- Water conservation: Drip systems are more efficient because they deliver water directly to the root zone of plants, reducing the amount lost to evaporation and overspray.
- Reduced water use: Drip systems apply water at a slower rate, allowing it to be absorbed more effectively by the soil and reducing overall water usage for irrigation.
- Improved plant health: A consistent supply of water to the root zone helps reduce stress on plants and promotes their growth.
- Reduced risk of disease: Drip systems minimize moisture on plant foliage, which can reduce the risk of fungal diseases.
By replacing a spray irrigation system with drip lines, you can save water, improve plant health, and reduce the risk of disease.
How to Replace a Spray Sprinkler System with Drip Lines
If you want to replace your traditional spray sprinkler system with drip lines or spray rotators, here’s what you need to do:
- Turn off the water supply to the irrigation system.
- Remove the existing spray heads and any other components of the system.
- Install the drip lines and spray rotators in the desired locations, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Connect the drip lines to the water supply using the proper fittings and connectors.
- Test the drip system to make sure it is working properly.
- Adjust the drip lines as needed to ensure proper coverage and watering of plants.
Keep in mind that replacing a spray irrigation system with drip lines can be a complex process that may require the help of a professional. Plan the layout of the drip lines carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for a successful installation.
How to Repair a Home Underground Irrigation System
If you have an underground irrigation system that needs repair, follow these steps to fix it:
- Diagnose the issue: Determine what the problem is by inspecting the system, looking for leaks, and testing its functionality.
- Shut off the water: To prevent accidents, turn off the water supply to the system before beginning repairs.
- Gather tools and materials: Depending on the specific repair, you may need items such as pliers, wrenches, pipe fittings, and irrigation repair tape.
- Make the repair: Replace broken pipes, fix leaks, or replace faulty valves as needed
- Test the system: Turn the water back on and verify that the system is functioning properly.
- Complete additional repairs: If any other issues arise during testing, fix them before using the irrigation system again.
Keep in mind that some irrigation repairs may require the expertise of a professional, particularly if they involve significant structural changes or electrical work.
Seattle Sustainable Landscapes would be happy to take a look at your existing system, provide updates, repairs, service calls or install a new system.
Reach out and let us know how we can help!
From Our Clients
“This has been my favorite home improvement project. This company literally made me a yard where there previously was overgrowth, concrete, large stumps and rocks. They were able to complete the project on time and their cost was much more reasonable than others I interviewed. The project lead Fernando was hard working and communicative. The owner David (and Jeff previously) as well as the GM Chris all stayed in touch throughout the project. I would definitely use them for other projects in the future”
“The team put in an irrigation system in our front and back yard, cleaned everything up and added many new plants to the sunny and shady areas around our home. The owner was very personable, explained everything well and did exactly what he said he was going to do. He was fantastic to work with. His team was wonderful, super hard workers, and very friendly. They helped create color and beauty in every nook and cranny of our yard. My husband and I are very thankful we used this company.”
“Happy with my choice. I had a very small townhouse backyard that was a bit of a mess (low quality builder-grade plantings) and had somewhat of an idea what to do with it. They provided good advice and the final result turned out very well. Finished ahead of schedule too! One year later and I'm still happy with the result. I definitely won't forget the attention and responsiveness of this company. Thanks a bunch! ”