Irrigation systems are useful tools for cultivating a healthy lawn and garden; however, when not properly maintained, they can waste water. Up to 50% of home irrigation is wasted due to evaporation, runoff, overwatering, leaks as well as improper system design, installation and maintenance.

Overwatering will damage plants more commonly than under watering. Frequent watering promotes nutrient and soil runoff, creates shallow roots and increases susceptibility to disease and weeds. Deep, less frequent watering promotes healthy plants and saves you time and money.

Efficient Irrigation Top Tips

Gold is the New Green

Let your lawn go golden. Lawns naturally go dormant in the summer and will bounce back to green with the fall rains.

Just Takes 1

Lawns only need one inch (2.5 cm) of water per week, including rain, even in the driest conditions. Longer, infrequent watering will help develop deeper, healthier roots and minimize washing away beneficial nutrients.

Reuse an empty tuna can as a watering gauge to determine how long your irrigation system takes to deliver one inch of water to the lawn.

Cycle and Soak

Irrigate in three short bursts to allow water to seep into the soil, reducing runoff and water waste. Divide the time it takes to water one inch (2.5 cm) by three. Water for that length of time, turn off your irrigation for an hour, and repeat two more times.

For example, if it takes 40 minutes to water your lawn one inch then water for about 13 minutes, wait an hour and repeat two more times. Irrigation controllers can be adjusted for this cycle and soak method. Learn more >>

Use Native Plants

Adapted to our local climate, plants need little to no watering once established, saving you time and money. Native plants also attract butterflies, hummingbirds, beneficial insects and bees to pollinate your garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to choose an irrigation system?

There are two basic types of irrigation systems: micro/drip and in-ground. If your property has a significant lawn area, an in-ground system may be most effective. If the largest part of your yard is landscaped with plants (bushes, shrubs, planted beds, garden areas), a micro-drip system may be a better choice. If your yard has a large lawn as well as a large landscaped area, a combination of the two systems may be the best option.

For in-ground systems, there are different nozzles available depending on your needs. Multi-stream rotary sprinklers can irrigate lawn more efficiently with larger water drops that are less likely to blow with wind drift and evaporate. Spray heads can deliver water quickly.

A soaker hose can be an inexpensive alternative to a micro/drip irrigation system that works well for smaller gardens on level ground. They are easy to install and work very well in raised beds. Learn more about the difference between micro/drip irrigation and soaker hoses. Please note soaker hoses are considered sprinklers under the Water Conservation Bylaw.

What is a micro/drip irrigation system?

Micro/drip irrigation systems deliver a precise amount of water to the roots of plant material. They are very water efficient and use low volume irrigation components which consume less than 20 gallons per hour and operate at less than 25 PSI to deliver water to the root zone of the plant material being irrigated. This includes spray emitter systems (micro spray), point source emitter and linear tape systems as defined in the BC Trickle Irrigation Manual prepared and published by the Irrigation Industry Association of British Columbia (1999), but does not include weeper hoses or soaker hoses.

This method of irrigation is exempt from the bylaw watering schedule days and times for established trees, shrubs, flower and vegetable gardens; however, mid-day watering is never recommended due to evaporation from warmer mid-day temperatures.

There are many types of micro/drip irrigation systems depending on your lawn and garden needs. Check out the resources below for what system may be right for you:

How to install an irrigation system?

If you are planning on installing an irrigation system, the CRD recommends the following:

  • Hire a local Irrigation Association of BC certified contractor. Use this checklist to help choose a contractor that best suits your needs.
  • If you would like to install the system yourself, set some budget aside to have a professional review your irrigation system plan, design and calculations before you purchase and install your system. An irrigation professional will ensure that you save money by recommending the right equipment to ensure that your system will function efficiently.

What are the benefits of an irrigation system controller?

Irrigation system controllers regulate your watering schedule, making it easy to water in accordance with the Stage 1 Watering Schedule.

  • Adjust your controller schedule monthly to account for seasonal and temperature changes.
  • Water budgeting will increase and decrease the programs based on seasonal requirements.
  • Set multiple programs for different zones, depending on their watering needs.
  • Rain and soil moisture sensors will over override the system and prevent watering during and after a rainfall event.
  • Watering times will depend on the type of irrigation system. Remember that lawns and many plants only need one inch (2.5 cm) per week. Place an empty tuna can in your yard to determine how long your irrigation system takes to deliver one inch of water.
  • Programs can be set to repeat cycles with multiple start times to practice cycle and soak irrigation.

How to identify a leak in my irrigation system?

If you notice areas of your lawn that are always wet, have puddles or show signs of erosion, you may have a leak in your system. Learn how to check for leaks in your irrigation system.

Sprinkler nozzles should spray large water droplets rather than a fine mist. A fine mist is more likely to drift with the wind and evaporate.

How often should I perform maintenance on my irrigation system?

In the spring, check your irrigation system and garden hoses for thin slits from frost or freezing. Regularly check sprinkler heads (at least monthly) to ensure they are adjusted to spray appropriate landscape areas, and are not clogged or malfunctioning. Have your irrigation system checked by a contractor at least once every year.

Before winter, flush your irrigation system to make sure no water will freeze in the system, causing cracks in pipes and sprinklers.

When should I water my lawn?

To reduce evaporation and scorching of leaves from the sun, water in the early morning from 4am – 10am or the evening from 7pm – 10pm in accordance with the CRD Watering Schedule. Lawns only need one inch (2.5 cm) of water per week, including rain. Adjust your irrigation system to account for rainy days so your lawn does not receive too much water.

What should I do about brown spots?

If there are brown spots on your lawn, water those spots by hand instead of with an irrigation system. If you try to water these spots with your irrigation system, you risk overwatering other spots on your lawn. Lawns naturally go dormant and golden in the summer and will bounce back to green with fall rains.

How can I reduce the amount of water that is wasted?

Reduce water waste by adjusting irrigation systems and/or sprinklers so that water does not run down the driveway, sidewalks or street. Regularly check sprinkler heads to ensure they are in good working condition and pointing in the right direction.

How can an irrigation professional in the capital region get certified?

To promote the design and installation of efficient irrigation systems that conserve our drinking water, the CRD offers professional irrigation contractors, municipal and school district staff certification training in CIT Level 1 & 2, CIT Scheduler, CIT Auditor. Please check back in the fall or visit Irrigation BC for course offerings.

Outdoor Water Use Fact Sheets

Our water conservation fact sheets offer tips for saving water in your garden: