3 Reasons You Should Hire Certified Irrigation Designers (#1 Says it All!)

January 10, 2022 9:22 pm  | Published by

As you embark on a landscape architecture project, there are many variables to consider. From designing the flow of each space to selecting plant life that suits your microclimate, the factors to think about go on and on. And there is one addition to the checklist that doesn’t always get its due: irrigation. Many landscape architecture firms give this job to engineers. But today, we’re going to talk about why you want to ensure that certified irrigation designers are on the task! 

#1 Irrigation is Not the Time for Half Measures

irrigation design

While you could make the argument that anyone can choose plants for their landscape, the value of an expert is obvious. They can make selections informed by years of education and experience. This ensures that they are the ideal installations for your unique landscape and microclimate. Plus, they’ve got an eye for pairing various plant life beautifully. 

But when it comes to irrigation, the need to hire a true pro is even more stark. It’s essential. This element of a landscape design is a foundational one. 

An exceptional irrigation system should accomplish the following: 

  • Conserve water by utilizing rainwater and runoff
  • Save maintenance time and cost by routing the aforementioned waters to naturally support the plant life
  • Provide the exact amount of water each planting/area of a landscape needs, so nothing is ever overwatered or underwatered 
  • Guarantee that no part of the landscape design makes the environment more susceptible to flooding than it was before

Without an intelligent irrigation system, the environment may soon be a nightmare to work with—at best. At worst, it could be completely useless.

When you have a great irrigation system in place, it allows for proper distribution of water, which results in easy maintenance, eco-friendly impact, and longevity. 

On the other hand, consider an irrigation system that is haphazardly designed by an engineer. That engineer likely understands the overarching concept but hasn’t had extensive training on the specific subject. They may create an irrigation plan that functions at first. But in a few months or years, it could cause maintenance issues, like flooding, because of an element that was misunderstood or overlooked.  

We here at Jerry Pate Design believe that an expert touch works magic in every part of landscape architecture. But if there is any one thing you shouldn’t leave in the hands of a novice, it is irrigation design.  

#2 Irrigation Association Requirements Are Rigorous

irrigation designers

In many fields, one need only look to the educational materials vetted experts worked through to see how important it is to distinguish them from those without the same training. In the case of certified irrigation designers, this is amply true. 

When irrigated by engineers rather than certified irrigation designers, your project could be lacking. The Irrigation Association recommends three years of irrigation-related experience or education before attempting its exam. That’s because it is no simple feat to successfully complete. 

Consider the topics the exam’s 150 questions cover: 

  • Irrigation equipment
  • Hydraulics
  • System components
  • Scheduling
  • Precipitation and application rates
  • Spacing
  • Soil-water-plant relationships
  • Efficiency and uniformity
  • Economics and pumps

And that is just for the general exam! There is also a landscape/turf specialty test that zeroes in on details from the robust Certification Candidate Handbook. 

Applicants must also comply with the Select Certified Code of Ethics and remain in good standing by submitting 20 continuing education units per two-year cycle. 

Now consider this: an engineer is required to do and know none of this. And, depending on their time in the industry, access to mentors, and specialization while getting their degree, they could easily have gone without being exposed to much of it. 

Irrigation is a niche and highly detailed field of study and skill, hence the need for an institution like the Irrigation Association. 

#3 The Best Certified Irrigation Designers Will Reduce Maintenance and Benefit the Environment

certified irrigation designers

We’ve touched on it here and there throughout this blog post already, but it’s a point worth stressing. Proper irrigation design not only ensures a safe and effective landscape, but saves you maintenance time and money. And proves an environmental boon.  

The EPA estimates that, “As much as 50 percent of the water we use outdoors is lost due to wind, evaporation, and runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems.”

In an expertly established ecosystem, microclimate-appropriate plantings are nurtured by a great irrigation system. That would be one that operates organically and utilizes natural water sources. The resulting environment is healthy, eco-friendly, and easy to manage.

Sometimes, entrusting an engineer with this task might make the project cheaper to complete. But in the long run, you’ll spend more money (and time) fixing the problems that crop up. And, carrying out maintenance that is more intensive than it needed to be. 

Why is it so important to hire certified irrigation designers? Let’s recap:

  • #1 Irrigation is Not the Time for Half Measures
  • #2 Irrigation Association Requirements Are Rigorous
  • #3 The Best Certified Irrigation Designers Will Reduce Maintenance and Benefit the Environment

If you want to design a landscape that is beautiful, enjoyable to be in, and functions as it should, you want to hire certified irrigation designers. 

To learn more about our very own certified irrigation designer, Brad Alexander, visit the page all about our firm and team. 

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This post was written by Steve Dana

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