Simplifying Multifamily Water Irrigation

multifamily

Web app can help properties avoid costly overwatering for free

Water My Yard is a free app that can help Texas multifamily property managers to keep landscapes attractive year-round and reduce expensive overwatering practices.

Fifty percent of landscape water is wasted by overwatering, often caused by needlessly running sprinkler systems. In recent years, evapotranspiration technology has emerged to sync irrigation systems with current weather conditions, based on information retrieved from weather data centers. This technology allows homeowners and property managers to water landscapes without excess and in accordance with their particular zone timing.

Until now, multifamily properties employing ET technology have had to invest in special controllers and pay monthly weather service fees. With the recent launch of Water My Yard, a free, web-based application, residential and commercial property owners can get some of the benefits of ET technology without the expense.

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Water My Yard texts or emails recommendations based on weather

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension developed this service to help safeguard the water supply, but it has the ancillary benefit of reducing excess water bills caused by overwatering.

At a recent irrigation conference in Grapevine, Texas, Dr. Guy Fipps, an irrigation engineer for A&M AgriLife, introduced the tool that determines how much supplemental water is needed to maintain healthy, warm season turf lawns based on weather conditions. A packed house listened as he explained how the system uses local weather data like ET-based systems to give weekly watering recommendations via text or email.

While it’s not a definitive alternative to expensive ET-based systems, Water My Yard is a resourceful tool to make sprinkler system operators aware of when and when not to water.

Registering for this free service is quick and easy

Water My Yard uses information from 43 weather stations across Texas. LCRA took six of the stations and modified them to track wind direction and solar radiation, which have an effect on the amount of moisture in the air.

With Water My Yard, water needs are determined based on the user’s irrigation system information: physical location, sprinkler head type, distance between heads and manufacturer.

To demonstrate how easy the setup is, we created an account based on a randomly-selected address near Denton, Texas, in the Upper Trinity Regional Water District.

First, the website asks for the address of the property and the irrigation system’s precipitation rate. While most homeowners probably don’t know the answer to the second question off hand, the site provides easy steps to determine this figure. Users simply answer a few questions about sprinkler type (rotor, spray or multi-stream), manufacturer and spacing.

Rather than state a precipitation rate, we chose to let the service determine that information for us. At the prompts, we entered multi-stream sprinklers made by Toro spaced at 25 feet. Then, viola! The service determined that our property, based on current weather conditions, needed to be watered twice every seven days. It also stated that there was no need to water the lawn on that particular day.

Water My Yard then gave us the option to get future automated water recommendations via email or text. At this point, we set up an account to receive future information. A few days later we got our first weekly recommendation: No water was needed on the lawn.

Apply just the right amount of water to keep your landscape healthy

This tool is particularly useful as Texas continues to recover from drought that ravaged many communities in recent years. North Texas lost 28 percent of the water supply from Lake Texoma, a major water source, according to AgriLife.

Water My Yard recommends that users consult with city or local water providers for watering restrictions, which may be in place. The service does not go to the lengths of ET technology by automatically adjusting program times on sprinkler zones; however, Water My Yard is a simple and inexpensive way that multifamily properties can empower science-based technology to provide landscapes with just the right amount of water.


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

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Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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