5 Qualities of Smart Irrigation

Each Aspects of Smart Irrigation Delivers Value


May 1, 2016. By Kirk Aoyagi:  Lush California native and climate compatible plants will take you a long way toward your water and energy saving goals.  To accomplish truly outstanding results, be savvy about the systems and structures you put in place to support them.

What is smart? Hydrozoned, low-flow, subsurface, drip irrigation with weather controllers provides the support California native and drought tolerant gardens need to achieve their full potential.

Here are the components you need:

  1. Hydrozones: In nature, plants with similar needs will find their way to places where they receive just the right amount of water. In the garden, placing beauties with their friends and calibrating irrigation to their mutual needs helps ensure survival.
  2. Low-flow: Watering slowly is important for the long term health of California natives. Adapted to thrive in drought, most natives do not appreciate frequent, shallow watering, and can develop root rot if overwatered.
  3. Sub-surface: Placing irrigation below the surface produces a few compelling benefits. First, you don’t have to look at it. It is also a much more efficient way to establish plants, forcing their roots deeper in their search for water.  Most importantly, it minimizes water loss due to evaporation.
  4. Drip: As you might suspect of a system described as low-flow and subsurface, effective irrigation does not spray. It drips, allowing plants to absorb water at a natural pace.
  5. Weather-based controllers: While drip irrigation will not be as visibly redundant (or as dangerous) as sprinkling in times of rain, it is just as counterproductive.  If you really want full control, some even come with the ability to monitor and adjust the system from your phone.

If your irrigation system has each of these qualities, you  California natives are likely to be resilient and thrive in both drought and El Nino.


Kirk Aoyagi is an EPA-accredited  WaterSense manager, a California Landscape Contractor’s Association (CLCA) certified water manager, and a California Landscape Irrigation Association (CLIA) licensed irrigation auditor.  He earned bachelors of science degrees in environmental horticulture science at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.


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