Is Irrigation Necessary?

Do I need an irrigation system for my existing landscape?

Trees and shrubs have different watering needs than lawns and flowers:

– Established Trees, Shrubs and Perennial Flowers: Probably NOT Necessary

Established Flowers         

– Newly installed Trees, Shrubs & Perennial flowers: YES, Irrigation is Important

Most trees and shrubs that have been established for over 2 years will probably be just fine without an irrigation system. Trenching for the irrigation lines may damage the roots and should be avoided. Over the decades, we see lots of problems with overwatering the landscapes. This is “operator error” and blame should not lie with the irrigation system, but with the programing of the controller.  Every site is different, but in general, if you have an established landscape, we suggest that the trees and shrubs be irrigated 1 or 2 times a week.

Some plants, like hydrangeas, will “flag” when they are too hot, usually if they are exposed to afternoon sun. Adding water may help the plants look better, but we also run the risk of over-watering them. One option is to move them to a location that avoids afternoon sun.

Newly installed trees and shrubs need consistent supplemental watering for 2 years, and there is nothing more reliable than an automated irrigation system, which is why almost all of our newly installed landscapes incorporate some type of irrigation system. We typically program these systems to run “every other day” for 2 years, then we dial them back.

– Lawns : YES Irrigation is Important (regardless if they are established or new)


Established lawns (usually tall fescue) will go into a dormancy during the heat of the summer. This is normal, and the grass will green up when the weather cools down. An irrigation system, however, will keep the lawn green all summer. It will also help the lawn to crowd out weeds, be less susceptible to insect infestation, and more resilient should an outbreak occur. Over-seeding a non-irrigated lawn can be frustratingly ineffective. If you want the lawn to be thick and full, with fewer weeds and fewer pesticides used on it, an automatic irrigation system is the single most effective tool. 

New lawns require a lot of water that is frequently applied. We program our irrigation on new lawns to run every day for 2 weeks, then every other day for another 2 weeks. Once established, lawns should be fine with watering every third day.

What’s the best system?

We have found little difference between the major manufacturers of the heads and valves (Hunter & Rain Bird). They are both great brands that also make very good controllers, both of which can link to your wi-fi system and be controlled and re-programed with an app. All systems have a rain-sensor function which prevents it from running if the sensor detects rain, or is still wet from a recent rain. If wi-fi connectivity is an issue, try Weathermatic as it communicates directly with the internet and does NOT piggyback on your wi-fi

While this system costs a bit more to install, and has a subscription for the cell service, we have found it to be well worth the investment.

Contact Shorb today, to find out more about the best irrigation system for your property!