What might motivate homeowners with outdoor irrigation to reduce irrigation practices? An online survey of one thousand homeowners with landscape irrigation in each of three states, California, Texas and Florida provided insights.
First, set up the irrigation system for homeowner DIY maintenance and system adjustments. Most homeowners perform their own irrigation system maintenance. “You’ve got this,” might be a message that resonates. Developing or promoting an APP that prompts action for maintenance and implementing water conservation/household water use restrictions and the environmental impacts of their actions will help spur water conservation action. A number of municipalities and utilities have moved in this direction. Many also have lists of companies that have gone through water conservation training that they promote.
Landscape companies looking to get homeowners’ attention in marketing messages and account satisfaction should focus on yard appearance while the household simultaneously meets utility or municipal restrictions. While yard appearance is the most important factor, homeowners are very aware of mandatory water conservation measures. There’s also opportunity for messaging about specific water conservation tools like rainwater harvest, especially if the utility or municipality offer rebates or cost share. Finally, there could be opportunity for neighborhood “one-up-man-ship” by positioning water smart irrigation as better than the system “your neighbor uses” since most surveyed homeowners say their neighbors often over-irrigate.
Survey particulars: Only households with automated or traditional irrigation systems were surveyed. Three quarters of the households were empty nesters; 70% had income of less than $100,000 annually; 58% were employed; one-third had a 4-year degree. Most respondents were females under the age of 55 in urban/suburban areas. Most completing the survey (69%) used water from a utility/municipal/regional water source.
Watering plants during the coolest part of the day was one measure homeowners employed to reduce water use. It ranked just under taking a shower rather than a bath in terms of household water use. The water efficiency of indoor appliances and reducing indoor water volumes through low-flow toilets and other measures are frequently employed. However the least purchased water efficiency purchase were rain water collection tanks (77% had not purchased within the past 10 years).
Turfgrass covers more than half of lawn area for more than 1/3 of the respondents. Two-thirds said their irrigation system included a rain shut-off sensor. System maintenance is performed by the homeowner for 43% of households; landscape professional for 25%; irrigation specialists by 17%; HOA/property management by 10% and no one for 5%. Most homeowners had knowledge of day/time watering restrictions and of the locations of their irrigation system zones. However, they were less knowledgeable when it came to plant types, soils and the specifics about their system that affect water use like sprinkler heads, efficiency or application rates.
NewTerrain January 16, 2017.