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Questions to Ask Your Irrigation or Landscape Contractor

Many homeowners hire contractors to install and service their in-ground irrigation system and maintain their landscapes. Skilled, professional landscape contractors can offer a great opportunity to improve the health and water-efficiency of your outdoor space.

If you are hiring an irrigation contractor, landscaper or gardener to design, install or maintain your irrigation system or yard, make sure that he or she understands the building blocks of water-efficient outdoor systems. Start by finding out if he or she is a licensed, bonded contractor, then ask for training and certifications.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask to gauge their skills and experience:

  1. What professional certifications or training have you received that address water efficiency or sustainable landscaping? For instance, are you certified by a program that earned the WaterSense label for its emphasis on water-efficient practices?

    Why Ask this Question?
    If the irrigation contractor, landscaper, or gardener has a license or certification, or has completed training in sustainable landscape design or care, it's more likely her or she will be better prepared to move your landscape towards water efficiency than a contractor without formal training.
  2. What are your initial ideas on how to minimize water waste in my yard?
    Listen for suggestions like:
    • Selecting regionally appropriate, drought tolerant or native plants that will thrive in your climate without supplemental watering
    • Adding mulch to planting beds
    • Checking your sprinkler heads to make sure they aren't broken and are directing water where it's needed
    • Testing your irrigation system to ensure the zones are properly programmed
    • Checking your irrigation system to look for efficiency improvements
    • Providing an irrigation schedule so that you can adjust your irrigation system for each season
    • Retrofitting you irrigation system with water-efficient technologies, such as a WaterSense labeled controller; a rainfall sensor; or high efficiency sprinkler nozzles
    Why Ask this Question?
    If the irrigation contractor, landscaper, or gardener can speak competently about how to improve your irrigation system or landscape design using well known and effective efficiency techniques, they are more likely to be capable of improving the health and water efficiency of your yard.
  3. How will you make sure that my irrigation system is watering the right amount for my landscape? Do you have pictures or water use records for sites where you have successfully reduced water use whether it be through better management or plant/irrigation upgrades?

    Why Ask this Question?
    If the irrigation contractor, landscaper, or gardener can speak competently about how to improve your irrigation system to meet plants needs without over watering and can demonstrate how they have done so on other properties, they are more likely to be capable of moving your landscape towards water efficiency.

Once you have selected a qualified contractor, consider these questions to gain a better understanding of how to properly program your irrigation system and maintain a healthy, beautiful, and water-smart landscape.