May 2, 2016


Water is a precious resource—and even more so in the desert climate of Arizona, which has been under drought conditions for 16 years. In the Valley, up to 70% of our water use is outdoors, and about half of the water we put in our landscape often goes to waste.

Help your yard drink responsibly with these three ways to keep your yard looking great, without wasting water.

Drip irrigation can save 30 to 50 percent more water compared to spray heads by applying smaller amounts of water over a longer time. Drip irrigation gets water where it needs to go so there’s less overspray and runoff. Converting your sprinkler heads to a drip irrigation system can be easy!

One easy method is to purchase a drip adapter, which offers a quick way to convert your sprinklers to drip irrigation. You can install dripline or tubing in place of sprinklers to save water and reduce overspray.

To use a drip adapter, screw the drip adapter into a ½ inch riser, and attach the hose swivel and drip tubing. If you have any unused sprinklers in the zone—ones you had a sprinkler on but are not putting an adapter on—you can close if off with a sprinkler shut-off cap.

You can also search for how-to videos online about converting your sprinkler system to view the different options and methods available to you.

Take note that drip irrigation systems require maintenance and need occasional monitoring and care. One easy maintenance strategy is to schedule a spruce up in the spring to observe your system at work and make any simple repairs or adjustments that are needed.

If you are going to keep your spray heads, make your nozzles as efficient as possible. High-efficiency nozzles help reduce wasted water and can improve your system’s efficiency by 10 to 20 percent. High-efficiency nozzles reduce runoff because they evenly apply water at a slower rate than traditional spray heads, giving the water a chance to soak into the ground. Some also apply larger drops of water, reducing the chance that wind will carry the water away before it even hits the ground.

There are different models from various manufacturers, but they all offer more efficient watering than traditional sprinklers. Retrofitting your current spray heads to high-efficiency nozzles is as easy as unscrewing the old nozzle and filter screen and attaching the high-efficiency nozzle and filter screen. Depending on the nozzle you choose, adjust the arc, distance, and/or spray pattern to what your landscape needs.

There are different types of smart irrigation controllers, which take the guesswork out of scheduling your irrigation system. These controllers use weather data and sensors to automatically adjust your irrigation schedule to environmental changes. They know when to water, how much water is needed, and when to stop watering. Controllers do this in one of two main ways: through an on-site sensor and through offsite data.

If you don’t want to get a new controller, you may be able to convert your current irrigation controller to a smart controller with a soil moisture sensor. These sensors will measure soil moisture and alert the controller when the moisture level needs to be replenished. Soil moisture sensors work best if you have similar plants and similar soil types throughout your yard.

With some controllers, you can download an app to your smartphone and access your system settings and schedule, and turn it on or off from your device if needed.

Don’t forget that if you need help, landscape professionals are available to help convert your whole yard to the most efficient irrigation system possible!

For more tips on creating a water-smart backyard, check out Water – Use It Wisely’s Landscape Watering Guide to learn how often and how long to water your plants. To learn more about drip irrigation, efficient nozzles, and soil moisture sensors and controllers, also check out Ewing’s Backyard Rehab playlist on YouTube.

From time to time, Water – Use it Wisely features guest bloggers who write about topics related to water and water conservation. The author of this blog post, Warren Gorowitz, is Vice President of Sustainability with Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply. For more information, contact Warren Gorowitz at

Want to give your yard a makeover but don’t know where to start? We’re here to help! One randomly selected winner will receive a backyard rehab prize valued at $8,000, brought to you by Water – Use It Wisely, ABC15 Arizona, Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association (ALCA), the Plant Something Campaign, and Ewing Irrigation.




Contest dates: April 18 – May 16, 2016.
Winner will be selected the week of May 23rd.