Promote proper landscape and irrigation management to ALL parties involved. The players are…
- Developers / Property Owners / Managers
- Designers – Irrigation / Landscape
- Contractors (installation) – Landscape & Irrigation
- Contractors (maintenance /management)
- Government oversight
Promoting proper Landscape Management is important; emphasizing the benefits of Landscape Water Management and proper Cultural Practices in such a way to get the players to embrace the program, resulting in a much better chance for success. Review your Landscape Maintenance contract yearly and communicate with your landscape maintenance provider at least monthly.
With few exceptions there will have to be PROVEN ROI (return on investment) for Property Owners/Property Managers and landscape maintenance/management Contractors for them to eagerly embrace any program.
When Developers, Property Owners and Property Managers understand the economics of properly designed and implemented landscape management programs and embrace these programs, they will drive changes in behavior of the other players by controlling the “purse strings” -the money/contracts- of the Designers and installation and maintenance Contractors.
The key is to educate everyone not just landscape professionals. Education programs are in place but “marketed” to landscape professionals. Getting Developers, Property Owners and Property Managers “on board” is the challenge! See Landscape Water Management.
Educated Developers, Property Owners and Property Managers are the Designer and Contractors’ best asset. Why? They will be more willing to spend money to improve landscapes and irrigation when they understand the benefits.
“knowledgeable consumers are the professional’s friend”.
Management as a Landscape Water Budget Adjustment
Short, frequent watering is commonly set on the controller (controller management). This is especially true of drip systems. Often another reason that “management” may cause misapplication of water is that as the landscape matures, drip emitter size (output), quantity and placement are not “managed” correctly; i.e. expanded as plants mature (see Performance vs. Reducing Net ET°). This results in deficit watered plants. One could argue that desert adapted plants in formal landscapes don’t need irrigation after they mature and become established. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why?
- Rarely is plant loss attributed to poor management, poor cultural practices or poor irrigation performance. Thus the false understanding that mature desert adapted landscapes readily accept “going native”.
- All plants on irrigation become accustomed to extra or supplemental water (irrigation), desert adapted or grass or high water use; makes no difference.
- There has been an investment (in many cases a very large investment) in the landscape and it should not be left to fend for itself in our dry desert environment. Your landscape has value and should not be risked to save water without understanding the risks. Responsibly reducing water delivered to a “well-managed” landscape is one thing… deficit watering or, as is sometimes suggested, abandoning an irrigation system is quite another.
- We are experiencing a drought and even mature well established plants in the surrounding desert are suffering.
- Desert adapted plants benefit (look better, are healthier) when given a SMALL amount of supplemental (irrigation to supplement available – usable – natural rainfall) water… if managed correctly. Your landscape will reward you with better health while looking great. Another benefit is slow to modest growth rates that are easier to “manage”.
- Plants in the surrounding desert are growing (surviving) because favorable conditions allowed them to successfully establish themselves there; in that particular spot. Soil conditions, rainfall, terrain (contours, swales – water harvesting) and other environmental factors favored the plant surviving to mature size. Conversely landscapes are not always thoughtfully planned (designed) and plants are frequently placed where they struggle to survive.
- Landscapes are “contrived” and don’t necessarily benefit or promote healthy plants. For further reading WatrWise Consulting recommends: Root Death in Landscapes – Natural Causes, Accidents and Murder by Carolyn Scagel – Slides 47-59.
- Infrequent natural rainfall may be enough for fortuitously placed native plants in the desert to struggle along at a very slow growth rate. Landscape plantings watered by irrigation adjust their growth rate to the available water (scheduling or watering frequency) and don’t fare well when irrigation is interrupted. Again:
Rarely is landscaping plant loss attributed to poor irrigation practices/management or landscape cultural practices.
- For every plant in the desert that has grown to healthy maturity, many, many plants did not survive. Because of poor “management” many landscape plants die, and the connection to poor “management” is seldom made.
- Other management practices that are overlooked that greatly affect plant water requirements or general plant health are:
- Cultural Practices – infrequent pruning (for health of plant) vs. regular shearing, mowing height and de-thatching and aerating turf-grass are some of the cultural practices that can affect plant water requirements.
- Water delivery choices (irrigation system design) and how irrigation systems are maintained and managed will effect plant water requirements. See Salinity Effect on Plant Growth and Performance vs. Reducing Net ET°
Pre-construction Site Planning/Design (original) “Management” or how your property is graded and if there is any water harvesting potential of natural rainfall on the property will greatly affect landscape water requirements and to what extent supplemental watering (irrigation) will be needed. See WatrWise Consulting’s Landscape Features.