Irrigation Inconsistencies

Clients and others may envision a grassy meadow or prairie, from a magic combination of will, soil amendments, and some method. Some even claim that will require no irrigation when established.

As the landscape architect I get to bring them back to earth – our 4000′ elevation, 8 inches of rain per year, earth.


Bringing balance by listening, educating, and crafting a design, I try to satisfy owner desires with my knowledge and compliance with often-shifting code interpretations of the governing municipality, before the contractor can make it happen.

But when one isn’t able to use water harvesting off roadways, drip irrigation is not just needed to establish; it is needed in all but the wetter periods to grow more than just isolated shrub desert.

What happens when something with the drip system fails?

Contrast the adjacent grama grass clumps below to above.


Is the issue the irrigation? Are there clogs in the emitters and poly line, or a break in the PVC pipe feeding the above? What is the schedule? Are there any pressure issues in one area but not other areas or zones?

Is it partly due to soil types? There is a great deal of caliche in the soil layer at this project site, and Bouteloua gracilis might be sensitive to that.

We know the issue is not the Bouteloua gracilis, native to the general area of the site. Only slight irrigation is required to keep grama grass green in our growing season.

We also know that one successful stand adjacent to one that isn’t, or scattered trees doing poorly vs. trees doing well may contradict bad soils that localized. The site is mass-graded, meaning uniformly disturbed; it’s not a fallow country acre.


7/10/17 weather: 98 / 69 / T