By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When spring rolls around, homeowners often start looking at their yards and ways to make it green.

Millions have underground sprinkler systems to help grass survive and flourish, but how can you get your lawn looking lush while conserving water and saving money? WCCO found four tips to achieve both.

“If you’re looking around at your neighbors, it’s always greener on the other side,” homeowner Chris Wall said.

Every spring Wall aspires to have a lush green yard where his son, and growing family, can play.

“That’s pretty much what everybody aspires to, I think, to have that yard that you can use and enjoy without too much extra work,” Wall said.

So upon moving into this Twin Cities home, the Walls, like many homeowners, added an in-ground irrigation system.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, half of water used outside the home is wasted. An irrigation system that isn’t properly maintained can waste up to 25,000 gallons a year.

Conserva Irrigation walks Wall through any repairs and adjustments each year. Vice President Russ Jundt offers advice and ways homeowners can conserve water and save money.

“Very simple things, DIY, you can do yourself,” Jundt said.

The first is to make sure your required rain sensor is working.

“It’s like a snooze alarm to an alarm clock. It turns the system off, it pauses it. It won’t allow it to water for a certain period of time after the rain as well,” Jundt said.

Before you turn your system on for the year, run through it during the day.

“Observe really zone by zone, head by head, check for leaks and then optimize the system by adjusting the head so that we’re not watering the street or watering the hard surfaces,” Jundt said.

If you use a timer, optimize it.

“You want to make sure that if you’re watering your system, you’re abiding by municipal law. Additionally that you’re watering the right amount of water for the seasonality. A lot less this time of year, more of course when it gets dry,” Jundt said.

Jundt said the real conservation and savings come from adding smart technology. That’s what the Walls chose.

“We always noticed that the front yard was drying out in the middle of the summer and no matter how hard we would irrigate it, it would dry out. The backyard was always really wet. We knew we needed a system that we could control from the front to back,” Wall said.

A homeowner can have an existing system retrofitted with a smart controller.

“Now we do our magic and we program it to all of the idiosyncrasies of the yard. What type of turf, what type of soil, what type of slopes, sun/shade factors, plant material, all those great things, we program that in,” Jundt said.

It allows each zone of the landscape to be watered differently. A weather sensor on the side of the home replaces the rain sensor to water only when needed.

“That weather sensor is recording daylight activity, ambient weather or ambient temperature as well as rainfall. It’s reporting to the smart controller nightly as though a professional irrigation person is coming out and adjusting it up or adjusting it down. Saves you 40 to 60 percent of your water usage,” Jundt said.

Wall said he’s noticed a difference in his lawn and his water bill.

“I knew we wanted to save on water and cost because there’s no reason you need to spend the extra money on the water. Once they’ve set it, we forget it,” Wall said.

A homeowner can also chose to install precision spray nozzles which can use 35 percent less water or add drip lines to deliver low volumes of water directly to plants’ roots, cutting down on overwatering.

“All these little things add up, it really puts money back in your pocket,”Jundt said.

A smart controller can run from $475 to $675 to have one installed, less if you do it on your own. Depending on how much water you use, I’m told homeowners can save well over that amount on their water bill well before a typical 5 year warranty expires.

Jennifer Mayerle

Comments (4)
  1. Here’s an idea. Stop watering during the heat of the day. Most of the water is just evaporating into space. Water early morning or early evening.

  2. I would agree with the above comment the best way to save money on lawn irrigation water costs, is to set up a regular irrigation schedule as well checking your lawn sprinkler system for any leaks or broken heads. Here is a great info on servicing your system