How to do your own water audit

How to do your own water audit

By Gino Bargellini
Licensed Irrigator, BackFlow Inspector, and Certified Water Auditor

The landscape water audit is an effective tool for maximizing water use efficiency for both homes and commercial landscapes and lawns. Some municipalities require water audits before a certificates of occupancy can be issued on commercial properties. You can also conduct an in home water audit. Visit your local water departments website  for tips, tools, and information on how to save water. The water dept. sites are dedicated to helping homeowners reduce their water consumption.

The purpose of the water audit is to make full use of every drop of water and avoid making assumptions and generalizations as to when to water and how much. With a water audit you can customize an irrigation schedules based upon on catch can results, site-specific soil conditions and plant water requirements, instead of using the longtime standard recommendation of 15 minutes– 3 times a week. Now you will be able to adjust run times for individual zones based on measured precipitation rates.

Click here for a PDF of The Aggie-Hort Water Audit Data Sheet. There you will find the sheet and the steps required to do a full residential water audit. Please Note: This is not a professional sheet and cannot be used to submit audits to municipalities. The following is some general information on water audits.

Irrigation audits consist of three main activities:

  • Site inspection: This is essentially a sprinkler check. For more on sprinkler checks click here. Sprinkler parts are not made to last indefinitely. Common problems are clogged or broken heads, clogged or misdirected nozzles, heads that won’t pop up, etc. You should set up a regular maintenance program for your home to be performed by you or an irrigation professional. In the state of Texas only licensed irrigators or certified irrigation technicians are allowed to repair or install sprinklers. Click here to go to the TCEQ (Texas Center for Environmental Quality) to verify licensing. Once you have repaired any issues proceed to the performance testing.

  • Performance testing: This is where you are going to evaluate your systems operation to ensure that you have adequate water coverage, by setting out your catch cans (or tuna fish cans). The sprinkler components such as the heads and valves are designed to operate under certain water pressure. Too little or too much can lead to operating problems that will be apparent once you evaluate the area. A system with low pressure will not have overlapping water and may have brown sections   in the lawn, where the sprays cannot reach. This may also be due to heads that were installed too far apart.
  • Irrigation scheduling: Now here comes a little math. See the PDF file for the formulas and how to use the information you have gathered. Determining when to schedule your sprinklers will be based primarily on the information (percipation rates) found in the audit, however there are other factors to consider, such as the following:
    • Water requirements of the plants or grass
    • zones in which the plant material has mixed water requirements
    • Size of the root ball when planted-and after. If you install annuals with a 2″ root system and a shrub with a 12″ root ball they will not have the same watering requirements.
    • Areas that are covered by eaves or other obstructions that will not receive rain water.

Performing your own water audit is the  only way to get the answer as to exactly how much to water and how often to water for your home. If you would like to have a water audit professionally done or require assistance with your sprinkler repairs you can contact us at 214-257-8155.

Gino Bargellini is the Vice President of Dallas Curb Appeal, a full service landscape contractor and DFW Christmas Lights, installing holiday lighting across the Metroplex.

Other Articles you might be interested in:

how much to water your lawn(specific DIY)

Sprinklers VS. Drip

Watering new sod

Drip Irrigation

How to do your own sprinkler check


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