Ecology + Design

Irrigation: Your Lawn and Landscape in the Northeast

Every summer we are faced with particular challenges in landscape management and maintenance. One of the biggest factors in maintaining appearance as well as health of our landscape revolves upon our watering practices.

If we consider the extremes of heat and humidity in addition to afternoon thunderstorms or over nite rain events, there is a fairly good chance we are getting to much moisture on leaf surfaces contributing to potential fungus problems.

When the total average daily temperature exceed 150, as in 90 degrees and 80% humidity, this is when we see most of the fungus problems on turf and ornamentals. This is also when many insects are doing the most damage.

In organics the best way to prevent problems and insure healthy plants with optimum performance and appearance is to provide the best environment in terms of soil conditions and air circulation.

Native plants which are adapted to soil and weather conditions as well as improved cultivars of ornamental exotics which are less susceptible to insect damage and disease are going to look better and require less maintenance.

The real key to happiness in your home or commercial landscape is biodiversity.
That doesn’t mean one of each kind of plant but rather a rich, attractive composition featuring a layered mix of different types of plants that attract beneficial organisms.

One of the most common mistakes we see in our site visits is the over use or misuse of irrigation. I often see irrigation heads spraying in the rain ! Not only a waste of resources ($) but contributing to root rot and fungus. Smart clocks and rain sensors can help prevent that. I also find many irrigation systems in Westchester are working the night shift! This is very common on well systems which are designed to rest between zones because of the many hours required to run through the whole system at one time. This can be avoided by alternating zones from one day to the next. The best time to water, especially turf grass is between 5 and 9 am in the morning though this may conflict with pressure loss in well systems and cause walkways to be wet when leaving the house etc.

Another common problem is light and frequent watering. This may contribute to shallow root development, roots growing up into the mulch and tremendous evaporation loss causing the irrigation to be less effective overall.

Don’t forget, irrigation should be adjusted throughout the year with the change of seasons and weather conditions.

Sometime it’s better to just turn the system off if nature is taking care or business!

Water is our most precious resource; let’s value it. Conserve and protect our clean water…for our future and our children’s future!


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