Jeff Muhlbach, a landscape irrigation designer understands the importance of efficient irrigation design. Anything from proper equipment selection to creating the most cost effective efficient design, Muhlbach expresses below the importance of having a good irrigation design included in ever project. 

In this short series we will unpack the importance of efficient irrigation in every project. A professional irrigation design plan can make or break a project. According to Muhlbach, a good irrigation designer will want to:

  1. learn as much about the site to be irrigated as possible
  2. understand the client and their expectations
  3. consider future maintenance concerns and costs
  4. provide the most efficient and cost-effective solutions


As professional irrigation design firm, WC3 Design goes above and beyond to create efficient irrigation plans that will work with any landscape project. So, why choose high efficiency? When taking a look at the difference between a basic system versus a high efficiency one, it is good for the client and designer!

A. Basic System:

  1. Controller –only time based
  2. May only have rain sensor
  3. Spray heads, basic
  4. Nozzles, basic
  5. Result: Material -$2,300 list; Water Used-1,500,000 gal; Seasonal cost-$15,000 at $10p/1000

B. High Efficiency System:

  1. rt (ET) controller
  2. Pressure regulated spray heads
  3. High-efficiency nozzles
  4. Flow manager / leak detection
  5. Result: Material-$3,200 list; Water used-683,000 gal; Seasonal cost-$8,200 at $10p/1000

The difference is obvious in the numbers. Efficiency is… well, more efficient. An efficient irrigation system will cost $900 more in material, but this is a one time cost that will pay off in the end. Paying more in the initial materials will save 800,000 gallon of annual water usage; this means saving $6,000 annual in operational cost. Overall the monthly ROI will more than pay off the initial material costs.


Create a complete design. Becoming well versed in irrigation design will make a huge difference in a project. Keep in mind this information to for more efficient and complete design on your next project. Need some help? Wolf Creek can help you with questions and defiantly recommend you to a trusted irrigation design firm if you want to outsource.

A complete design requires more than just dropping some sprinkler heads. The following is some basic information that needs to be acquired before formulating a design.

  1. water source (city/building pipe, well, pond, etc.).
  2. water source volume (GPM for pipe, volume for pond).
  3. static pressure (if from a city/building pipe).
  4. landscape layout including plant palette.
  5. preferred location of irrigation controller (including power availability at that spot).
  6. special requirements (LEED etc.)

As a landscaper, you want to design the most complete design you can in order to save the homeowner money. They will not be happy if your water bill spikes through the roof. Irrigation isn’t just about water! It’s important to research other aspects of a design that will be effected by the irrigation. These are things like:

  • plant material including its growth habit and watering preferences
  • underground utilities
  • topography
  • soil conditions
  • budget limitations
  • building codes

The more information gathered for an irrigation and other design you are creating for the project, the better. The more you know the more you are able to craft a custom design that works best for the space. When ever possible you should also gather information like:

  • client product preferences if any
  • local watering restrictions or building
  • backflow prevention requirements from the water supplier
  • phasing requirements
  • client budget
  • other special conditions.

Now that you have read through the beginning steps of an irrigation design it should be clear that there is more detail entailed than some may think. As landscapers you should consider adding a professional irrigation designer to the project. Having another professional help you with the details you don’t have time for will make the project go smoother and more EFFICIENTLY! You spend a lot of time creating beautiful spaces, keep them green and alive with proper irrigation. Stay tuned for part2 in irrigation efficiency.

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