If you have plants, you need water.
Lawns, perennials, annual beds, big decorative pots — they all need a good drink. Again, and again, and again…
Sometimes Mother Nature helps out with a nice batch of rain. Other times, you’re in charge.
Irrigation vs. hand watering? Let’s take a look at both options.
Who Needs Irrigation?
Here in the Washington DC area, most established commercial properties don't have built-in irrigation systems. Mature landscaping doesn’t need as much water as new installations, and most months, there’s enough rain for them to get by.
Owners of smaller properties often put sprinklers out, moving them around by hand to irrigate grass and beds.
But if you’re planning new landscaping, installing an irrigation system is a smart choice, especially if you have a large expanse of lawn or lots of flower beds.
While older, established properties need less water, new landscaping needs frequent watering until it settles in.
Crews will be digging up your property for the landscaping anyway, so it’s less disruptive to install irrigation now than to add it to existing landscaping.
How Hand Watering Works
A hand watering service is ideal if your landscaping consists mostly of planting beds and decorative pots. That’s typical for many urban properties, from hotels to storefronts to office buildings.
At Level Green Landscaping, we bring the water to you, in tanks on trucks that vary in size, depending on the needs and location of the property.
Smaller, 250-gallon tanks on small trucks are great for the traffic and tight spaces of urban properties.
We also have 1,000-gallon water tanks on flatbed trucks or water wagons pulled by pick-up trucks for larger or suburban properties where accessibility isn’t as much of a challenge.
Our crews visit two or three times a week and hand water with hoses attached to our water tanks. If we do the watering, we guarantee the plant material we supply, because we know it will be watered thoroughly and regularly.
Hand Watering: It’s Trickier Than You Think
Hand watering seems simple enough. When plants seem dry, pour some water on them, right?
Lots of plants owe their slow, dry death to this philosophy.
“A lot of people don't understand how to water effectively,” says Paul Wisniewski, a Level Green branch manager who helps coordinate irrigation and watering services. “It’s not as simple as just splashing some water on the plants and calling it good. You need to water, let the water sink in, and water again. It gets really hot here in the summer months. When it’s 100 degrees and you're perspiring, your plants feel the same way.”
And don't depend too much on rain, he says.
“If we get a little drizzle, people think, ‘Oh, it rained. I don't need to water,’ “ he says. “But a little drizzle is not enough water.”
Why Leave Hand Watering To The Pros
It might seem easy to designate a staff person to water your property’s plants. But will that staff person remember? Will they have the patience to water for long enough to really let hydration soak in?
Professionals with a plant watering service know to focus on watering a plant’s roots. That’s what needs water, not the leaves. Wetting the foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of disease.
Pros know to water slowly, so the water has a chance to soak into the roots.
Potted plants tend to dry out more quickly than their in-ground counterparts, so they need more thorough and frequent watering.
And if a planting bed includes a tree along with flowers, that tree, with its large roots, will access the water first, Wisniewski says. The flowers get the leftovers — which may not be enough. Those areas need extra water.
Don't Forget The Fertilizer
At Level Green Landscaping, we add slow-release fertilizer to all annual beds and pots at installation, but frequent watering leaches the nutrients from the soul.
We recommend liquid fertilizer each month, especially for pots. Ask your account manager about including this in your watering service.
A Word About Irrigation Maintenance
“Just because you have an irrigation system doesn’t mean it’s working properly,” Wisniewski says. “You need occasional inspections for possible repairs and adjustments. People think, ‘I have an irrigation system, so I'm all set.’ But it’s all underground — you don't know what’s going on down there.”
Irrigation professionals can check.
Sprinkler heads get clogged with dirt and gas clippings. If some holes are clogged, that means too much water may hit some areas and not enough will reach others. That means an unhealthy landscape and wasted water.
Wisniewski checks those, as well as the system’s valves and other mechanical components. A leaky valve will waste water and increase your water bill.
“Be sure to allow some money in your budget for possible summer irrigation system repairs,” he says. “Then you’re prepared in case something happens.”
Consider Smart Irrigation Controls
One of the biggest irrigation trends in commercial landscapes is efficiency. There are upgrades you can add to your irrigation system that will save you money in the long run.
Smart irrigation controls automatically adjust for changes in weather and seasonality, using as little water as possible while keeping your landscape looking its best.
Your irrigation system’s spray rotors or pop-up emitters can often be swapped for new, more efficient ones that use less water.
Leave The Watering To Level Green
Whether you want to upgrade your current irrigation system, install a new one or rest easy with a plant watering service, Level Green can help.
If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers. We’ll talk to you about the best watering procedures for your property.
Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.
Contact us at 202-544-0968. You can also request a free consultation online to meet with us one-on-one.
We’d love to hear from you.