Landscaping & Irrigation

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Landscaping around the house is pleasant and beneficial. Installed properly it provides a buffer between the house and the weather. They provide a break wall for winter winds and shade from summer heat. Every landscaping plan is unique to the house. Grading, house direction, and size influence landscaping choices.

Vinyl and wood houses sided to grade, and wood decks that have lawn next to them suffer lawnmower and weed wacker damage. Prevent that by landscaping next to the house and deck. A good idea is to lengthen downspout extensions to discharge into landscaped areas.

Caution: landscaping has the kitty/puppy phenomenon. They are cute when they are young but they grow up. In homes 20+ years old there are trees and large shrubs planted too close to the house. Most times they have to be removed, relocation is difficult and expensive. Ground cover next to the house will settle over time creating drainage issues.

Landscaping general rules:

  1. Landscaping is high maintenance.
  2. Make the grading slope away from the house.
  3. No lawns planted next to any structure.
  4. Rocks and pavers are good because they are low maintenance.

Irrigation systems keep the landscaping watered and are set up in zones because no system has enough water capacity to run all the sprinkler heads at once. Each zone will run 3-6 heads. There are 6-12 zones depending on the size of the property.

Irrigation systems are high maintenance and need to be turned on in the spring and turned off in the fall. Contractors do this for $75-$250 to turn the system on and $75-$250 to blow water out of the sprinkler lines so they do not freeze and break. The only exotic piece of equipment they use is an air compressor, many homeowners have their own.

The system control panel is generally in the garage and there should be a schedule of the different zones. The homeowner controls when Zone 1 starts and duration, then selects the time each zone is programmed to run. When it finishes the last zone it stops. One can program the system to come on every day, every other day, or Saturdays. Once in awhile, the control panel is in the basement, one has to run stairs to test the system.

I seldom use irrigation because it is too expensive. I have one water meter, it measures the water supply then adds the same quantity used to the sewer service. Sewer service is more expensive than the water service. Some residences, typically in townships, can have two water meters: one for the inside where the owner is charged water and sewer, second one works on the outside only and do not get charged for the sewer service. Cities and villages typically do not have this option because it is a significant revenue generator.