Figure legend – Water loving Ajuga, thriving in a non-irrigated garden in Atlanta.
It does help that I can see his yard from my bedroom window and watch his plants like a hawk. He is now used to my text messages “Hey Joe, we are in a drought, water everything”. So, if you opt to not acquire an irrigation system you will need to be cognizant of weather patterns and be willing to wait until fall or winter to do your plantings. Ironically October is the driest month in Atlanta and I have had clients with established yards loose several plants during occasional droughts in that period, in one case that meant a few thousand dollars because the plants were somewhat mature.
But not everyone is constantly watching the weather channel, and if that is you then the convenience of an automated irrigation systems is the perfect solution. However, you still need to be smart about your choices. A well-planned irrigation system should give you 100% coverage for all the new plantings and sod but does not mean that you must overwater it and be wasteful. When I design my irrigation systems, I make sure to include a few water saving items. I like to use rain sensors because they detect precipitation and override your watering schedule and that represents huge savings in water. I also like to use MP rotators instead of sprayers.
Spray heads put a single widespread jet that and mp rotators use several narrows jets that use less water per minute, water more slowly. Thus, MPs rotators mitigate runoff tremendously giving ample opportunity to the water to soak into the soil instead of being washed of like sprayers do (check this out for a full explanation (video link).
Finally, most people in the Atlanta area water their gardens and lawns 3 times a week. That is absurd and unnecessary. I can understand such a schedule for vegetables and annuals that appreciate more frequent watering, or during the first year of a recently planted yards – Plants and sod need more water to get established but after that you can reduce watering drastically – In my own home I keep my plants on a 14-day watering cycle. If the rain sensor does not detect any rain for 2 weeks, then the irrigation will kick in and water plants profusely. If there is not rain on the radar, I make it rain! I run the system for a long time (35 minutes for MP rotators and 20 for sprayers). In horticultural lingo I water it deep instead of frequently. My irrigation may have run 5 times as of August 2023, and plants seem happy nevertheless.
So, do you need an irrigation system? The answer depends on your level of convenience, but if you do get one get smart about it or give us a call.