Smart Irrigation and green spaces: Partners for long-term sustainability

Irrigation plays a vital role in maintaining green spaces that augment communities across the globe.  
Green spaces, including lawns, can sequester up to 18 million passenger vehicles’ worth of carbon emissions. Smart irrigation can support their health.

The Irrigation Association, Fairfax, Virginia, is highlighting the value of smart irrigation through Smart Irrigation Month this July. The initiative was created to promote the social, economic and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation technologies, products and services in landscape, turf and agricultural irrigation. This year’s theme, “What’s the value of smart irrigation?” allows the IA to tell the irrigation industry’s story about how smart irrigation products, technologies and practices are having a positive and beneficial impact on our lives and communities. Smart Irrigation Month is sponsored by HydroPoint

Irrigation plays a vital role in maintaining green spaces that augment communities across the globe.  

By approaching green space maintenance with a focus on smart irrigation, those who manage green spaces can take advantage of a number of beneficial impacts yielded from thoughtful water application. 

How does smart irrigation support green spaces? 

Green spaces can improve property values, provide cooling effects in urban areas and support thriving, growing communities, says Lisa Stryker, vice president of marketing and communications for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.  

“There’s lots of research about the mental health benefits of being outdoors in green spaces,” says Stryker. “It’s valuable not only for mental health but also for getting out and exercising for physical health, improving real estate values and obviously the climate benefits.” 

According to the Lawn Institute, carbon modeling research of a typical suburban home on a half-acre lot, landscape beds, shrubs, trees and a grass lawn indicate that between 81%-90% of the carbon captured in the landscape is captured by the lawn. 

Maintaining green spaces is as essential as the spaces themselves, and water is a relevant topic of the maintenance and adaptation conversation, says Ayanna Williams, director of community and environmental resilience at the National Recreation and Park Association. 

Williams is responsible for preparing parks to be climate-ready which includes collaborating with members of the parks and recreation community to find solutions to ensure parks are prepared for a changing climate. 

“Water is often central in the conversations,” she says. “Depending on where you are, the conversations are different. But we were just in Detroit. Since it’s near the Great Lakes, water is usually not an issue for them, but they’re currently experiencing a drought, so they’re talking about water more than they usually would.” 

Williams adds that different parts of the country might have different approaches to water consumption, with some areas, such as Farmington, New Mexico, using water to irrigate shared green spaces and encouraging limited use for private lawns.  

“We asked them what the thought there was, and they said that as a community, they were investing in having the best possible grass parks or green space for the shared public space,” she says. 

Stryker points out that landscape professionals are the ones carrying out the duty of maintaining green spaces, shared or otherwise, and their duty is vital to the larger ecosystem, of which smart irrigation is a major component.  

“Landscape professionals maintain all the managed green spaces in the United States, which is a huge contributor to sequestering carbon and producing oxygen,” she says. “All the plants and trees provide cooling in the summer and then reduce the need for heat in the winter by providing wind blocks.” 

According to additional research conducted by the Lawn Institute, modeling of carbon sequestration by lawns indicates that lawns in the United States alone can sequester between 12.5 million and 95 million tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of between 2.4 million and 18 million typical passenger vehicles. 

That makes those professionals, with their expertise in plant needs and water requirements of a healthy green space vital. 

“Landscape professionals are really America’s environmental stewards, stewarding all of our shared green spaces,” Stryker says.

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