July 2020

Mike Moore, Diggable Designs

Welcome to July and Smart Irrigation Month. While many of us have been focused on responding to the pandemic, adjust our operations, and dealing with the possibility of no H-2B workers this summer, we can’t lose sight of the ongoing need to conserve water.

If you’ve been resistant to smart timers and Wi-Fi-enabled irrigation or have not been impressed in the past, I urge you to take another look. Even if you have already adopted smart technology in your work, Smart Irrigation Month is a good time to revisit the technology and evaluate how and where you use it.

Tech is constantly being updated, and that is true for smart irrigation. Cloud-based and wifi-enabled tech offers frequent updates, and you might find that the app you installed last year—or rejected using last year—now offers great new features.

In my own experience, I was frustrated last year with an app used by a client but found it incredibly useful this year. The app added the ability to create a zone map of the year using satellite images of the property—all from my phone. I’m now sold on this technology and would consider it for use at other properties.

This smart technology is especially relevant now, as drought has been steadily creeping across the state. Last week, Governor Polis activated phase two of the Colorado Drought Plan. A task force is reviewing the situation and will make recommendations for mitigating the effects of drought.

As I write this, about 80% of the state is experiencing some level of drought, while a third of the state is in extreme drought. In Colorado, drought is part of our weather cycle. It’s not a matter of if, but when it will occur. Landscape companies are already feeling the effects as their cities and municipalities are adjusting rules and diverting some water to meet the demand.

I recommend that you think about client communication and be ready to update them as the situation evolves. Just as you did with COVID-19 restrictions, have communication ready should there be restrictions in your clients’ communities. Share information about efficient outdoor water use and educate clients on how to keep their landscapes healthy now so that they can survive if drought conditions worsen.

This is also an excellent time to educate clients about Sustainable Landscape Management (SLM) Colorado. Putting the right plants in the right place and maintaining them in a way that is fitting for our unique climate can go a long way to preparing us for cycles of drought and the restrictions that often come with it.

As your trade association, ALCC has information ready as well. We are preparing to address legislators and the media should landscape water use become a target of severe drought restrictions. In addition to educating them about the principles of SLM, we have data from CSU’s study, “The Hidden Value of Landscapes: Implications for Drought Planning” to demonstrate that landscapes return tremendous benefits while making up just 3% of water use.

Hang in there—the spring and summer have been challenging for all of us. But our industry has also found opportunity. Some companies are reporting that business didn’t just bounce back from the initial shock of the pandemic, but it has grown. Let’s keep that positive momentum going and head into the second half of 2020 ready to thrive.

Mike Moore
Diggable Designs Landscape Construction, Lakewood
ALCC Board President