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Landscape and Irrigation Resources

Landscape and Irrigation Resources

Over-watering grass is the largest source of outdoor water waste. Maintaining efficient irrigation systems that use the best available technology can help you save water and money while maintaining your landscape.

The city partners with Resource Central(RC) to offer water conservation programs and resources. Email Boulder Saves Water for more information.

Watering Recommendations

It's recommended to water your turf 2-3 days per week over the course of the summer. 

Because most soil in Boulder is clay-based, it's best to water when using sprinklers in cycles (or stages) and wait an hour in between each watering. This allows the water to completely soak into the soil rather than pool and run off. Use the table below to determine how much you should water with your sprinkler type. 

Sprinkler Type

Watering Recommendations

Rotor sprinklers (oscillating sprinklers) put out about 0.9 inches of water per hour. Three cycles of 12 minutes each per watering day (total of 36 minutes). Wait an hour in between cycles.
Fixed-head sprinklers do not oscillate and put out about 1.4 inches of water per hour Three cycles of seven minutes each per watering day (total of 21 minutes). Wait an hour in between cycles.

Sprinkler Types

Our lawns are more drought-tolerant than we think and it doesn't take much water to keep them healthy. However, different sprinkler types put out different amounts of water.

Sprinkler Heads

Rotor Heads
More efficient than the typical spray head but used for longer distances (20 feet to more than 100 feet).

Impact Heads
Similar to rotor heads but with a canister style body used for longer distances (30 feet to 150 feet).

Spray Heads
Less efficient than rotors but designed for smaller areas (three to 15 feet).

Matched Precipitation Rotating Heads
Also known as "MP heads," "Rotating Nozzles," or "Matched Precipitation Rate Rotary Spray Heads," these specialized spray heads are much more efficient than standard spray nozzles for smaller areas(5 feet to 35 feet). Matched Precipitation Rotating Heads are more water-efficient because they:

  • Rotate to provide better coverage;
  • Match precipitation to make sure that each head puts out the same amount of water at the same rate. This waters the lawn more evenly.
  • Lose less water by putting out larger water droplets, rather than creating a mist. More water reaches the turf and less is lost to evaporation.
  • Use less water to keep your grass looking green. Even though less water is being used, sometimes longer run times are required.

Monitoring and Maintenance

SMART Controllers

  1. Weather-based (based on evapotranspiration and/or other factors like wind and heat).
  2. Sensor-based (based on in-ground moisture sensors).

SMART controllers constantly update and adjust their run programs based on current weather and soil moisture conditions to determine exactly how much irrigation is needed to keep your lawn healthy. This advanced technology helps you save water and money. To be eligible for rebates through the RC, drip controllers must be approved by Smart Water Application Technologies (SWAT) or EPA WaterSense.

Irrigation Audits

Irrigation audits can help you save water and reduce your water bills by identifying irrigation issues on your property. City of Boulder residential or commercial customers can sign up for the free RC Slow The Flow program, which helps any city customer determine where water is being wasted and how irrigation systems can be improved. If appropriate for your property, the RC irrigation auditors will also upgrade your sprinkler heads to more efficient models and complete minor repairs to your irrigation system.

Drip Systems

Above-ground Drip Systems
More than 90 percent efficient if correctly maintained.

Subsurface Systems
Some drip systems can be installed underground without any visible emitter because the drip tubing is designed to emit water at the root level. These subsurface drip systems are also eligible for rebates through the RC.

Xeriscape

Xeriscape is the term applied to low-water-use landscapes that use the seven principles of xeriscape. pdf Xeriscape gardens can have a wide variety of plants and trees and still save water.

Xeriscape gardens can vary in how much water they use. Xeric plants and trees are categorized by how little water they use and there are several different rating systems. One rating system involves using the "X" in xeriscape where a single "X" means that the plant or is xeric and a rating of "XXX" designates the plants or trees that use the least amount of water.

  • X -  One inch of water per week
  • XX -  1/2 inch of water per week 
  • XXX -  1/2 inch of water every two weeks

Other rating systems have been developed around climates and microclimates. Considering environmental influences, using native plants, and studying the variation between microclimates in your own yard are all part of the planning process.

In partnership with the RC , the city makes low-water-use plants readily available to Boulder residents through the Garden-In-A-Box  programs.

Turf Removal & Replacement 

When watered and maintained effectively, replacing your turf with low-water use landscape can reduce your outdoor water use by up to 60%. There are several ways you can remove your turf. Learn more at Resource Central's Turf Removal & Replacement 101 fact sheet.  

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