Irrigation Association Certified Irrigation Technician Training Sponsored by SiteOne and Hunter

Irrigation Association Certified Irrigation Technician Training Sponsored by SiteOne and Hunter

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Two Locations:

Cleveland, Ohio – February 14th, 2018

LACENTRE Conference & Banquet Facility
25777 Detroit Road
Westlake, OH 44145

Columbus, Ohio – February 15th, 2018

Crowne Plaza Columbus North
6500 Doubletree Avenue
Columbus, OH 43229

 Seats are Limited

Contact your SiteOne Representative to Register

* Includes “Landscape Irrigation System Installation and Maintenance” by the Irrigation Association

Landscape Irrigation System Installation & Maintenance

Beginner | Landscape & Golf (8 CEUs)
Learn the basics of hydraulics and irrigation system installation and maintenance. This full-day learning session covers an overview of irrigation system components and how they operate. Learn about gluing and repairing PVC pipe, installing nozzles and adjusting heads, setting and repairing electric valves, and field and controller wiring techniques. Recommended review for the certified irrigation technician exam.

Certification gives you a competitive edge. Become a certified irrigation technician and:

  • Add instant credibility with customers and employers.
  • Increase job opportunities.
  • Demonstrate your commitment to efficient water management.
  • Qualify for the EPA WaterSense program.

Certified Irrigation Technician Logo

CIT Overview

CITs are field technicians who install, maintain and repair irrigation systems. CITs

  • cut and join pipe, know the limitations of different piping systems and understand basic hydraulics.
  • lay out and install piping and water delivery components; backflow prevention components; mechanical, hydraulic and electrical irrigation controls; and other irrigation system components.
  • troubleshoot and repair irrigation components and systems.

Becoming a CIT

To become a CIT, you must:

  • Register for the exam. Recommended: six months or 1,000 hours of irrigation-related field experience.
  • Pass the irrigation technician exam. The three-hour exam includes 100 equally weighted, multiple-choice questions on basic irrigation principles, basic electrical principles and basic hydraulics.
  • Comply with the Select Certified Code of Ethics.
  • Remain in good standing. CITs must submit 20 continuing education units per two-year cycle.

CIT Exam Fees

Irrigation Technician Exam Fee — 175 (Member), $300 (Nonmember) 
Exam Retake Fee — $175 (Member), $300 (Nonmember)  
Annual Renewal Fee (one certification) — $50 (Member), $100 (Nonmember) 
Annual Renewal Fee (two or more certifications) — $100 (Member), $150 (Nonmember)

See the Certification Candidate Handbook for exam policies, procedures and fees outside of North America.

Don’t Miss the Ohio IA Annual Meeting, January 15 at MGIX!

The Ohio Irrigation Association annual meeting, held in conjunction with MGIX 2018, will be followed by a FREE reception at Barley’s Brew House.


When: Monday, January 15

Time: 6:00 pm to 6:45 pm
(Reception following at Barley’s Brew House)

Where: The Greater Columbus Convention Center – Eisenmann Room (formerly B200)

Reception – Free Beer, Wine and Food

annual meetingJoin Ohio Irrigation Contractors

When: Monday, January 15

Time: 6:45 pm to whenever

Where: Barley’s Brew House, 467 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio (across the street from the Convention Center)

Reception and Door Prizes Courtesy of HunterRain Bird and Toro 

Don’t miss out on the best party of the year! Mingle with old friends, vendors, and manufacturers’ representatives. Hunter, Rain Bird, and Toro personnel will be there, as well as the Board of Directors for the Ohio Irrigation Association.

Find out how others fared through 2017. Learn about new products and old tricks. Get the latest news and views from experts. Companies from all over the state of Ohio will be represented.

We’ll See You There!

MGIX 2018 Is Set for January 15-17


MGIX 2018 is scheduled for three full days, January 15 through 17, 2018, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. This annual event combines industry-leading education with an expanded trade show. It’s a truly innovative green industry experience that you won’t want to miss!

Landscape Irrigation Education

Educational sessions of particular interest to landscape and irrigation professionals will include:

Trade Show

More than 300 exhibitors will be offering everything from nursery stock and hardscaping products to pest control and landscaping equipment. This year’s show is expected to attract thousands of attendees.

MGIXNew this year will be the Feature Stage! Located in the Exhibit Hall, the stage will spotlight entertainment, education and product presentations. The expanded trade show will also offer the Garden Lounge and New Product Showcase.

Family Time

Also new this year will be Family Programs. Many MGIX attendee and exhibitors own or work for family businesses. So MGIX 2018 offers activities and education sessions to address family business issues and provide family-friendly entertainment for all ages.

Back by Popular Demand

Back again for 2018 is the ever-popular Climbers Corners. This live-stage event features expert educators demonstrating a variety of arboricultural techniques important to tree care professionals, landscape crews, managers and landscape designers.

To Learn More…

For more information, including the education schedule and special events, Click Here.

To register for MGIX 2018, Click Here.

To reserve a booth, Click Here.




Join Us at the 2017 Irrigation Show in Orlando!

Show Is Set for November 8-9, Education Conference for November 6-10

Irrigation Show 2017 is the only national trade show designed specifically for irrigation professionals. It’s where the irrigation industry comes together to network, learn and promote irrigation.

Nearly 5,000 distributors, dealers, contractors, consultants and growers are expected to attend this year’s event. You’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Check out innovative products, technologies and services.show2
  • Explore new suppliers.
  • Learn about the latest business trends and irrigation best practices.
  • Network with current business partners and with industry leaders who share the Ohio Irrigation Association’s commitment to efficient irrigation.

For exhibitor information, including booth space fees, assignment, and 2017 floor plan, click here.

Educational Opportunities

While enjoying sunny Orlando, be sure to attend some of the many irrigation seminars and classes that are offered. You’ll learn concepts and practical skills you can implement immediately.

244IrrigationShow2015LongBeach_boxScheduled classes offer:

  • Real-world applications and irrigation case studies.
  • Current techniques, field-tested information and best practices.
  • Instructors with industry expertise and proven teaching experience.

One-hour seminars will provide detailed coverage on a focused topic in landscape irrigation. Seminars are open to all attendees with a full registration. Participants will earn 1.00 CEU for each hour. This year’s topics will include:

  • Irrigating Green Roofs
  • Pressure Regulation to Improve Irrigation Efficiency
  • Basis of Design
  • Top 5 Employment Law Issues Facing Contractors

For a complete list of irrigation education classesclick here.  For a complete list of irrigation seminarsclick here.

A Proven Winner

Attendance at last year’s Irrigation Show was up double digits. Exhibitor presence was strong, and new product introductions were plenty.

In fact, research of past shows has indicated a strong correlation between show attendance and future sales. Specifically, within 12 months of the show:

  • 77% of the attendees purchased a product or service as a result of contacts made at the show.
  • 90% of the attendees contacted exhibitors met at the show.
  • 90% of the attendees visited exhibitor websites based on information from the show.

Check out this promotional video from last year’s Irrigation Show: 


Irrigation Association

Green Industry Pros

How Do I Become a Certified Backflow Tester?

It’s the question most frequently asked by Ohio IA members: “How do I become a certified backflow tester?” 

But before we get into the details of the certification process, let’s explore the reasons behind the testing in the first place.

Why Is It Needed?

Irrigation system backflow devices help protect a home’s drinking water from contaminants such as lawn fertilizers and pesticides. The state of Ohio requires that these devices be tested on an annual basis. 

But this testing can only be done by individuals who have been certified by an approved testing school. This is a legal requirement. In Ohio, there are two such schools: APHC Backflow School and Ohio Contractor Training.

Backflow Disasters

In order to fully appreciate the importance of backflow testing, we need to see the consequences of backflow mishaps.

For instance, in December of last year, a backflow incident in Corpus Christi resulted in the city’s water being contaminated by an asphalt emulsifier known as Indulin AA-86. When a backflow valve in the city’s industrial district failed, about 24 gallons of the petroleum-based chemical were released into the city’s water supply.

Officials ordered a four-day tap water ban for the city’s 320,000 residents. Schools were closed. Several cases of illness were attributed to the tainted water. In the end, the cause of the crisis was eventually traced back to the city’s failure to enforce a testing requirement for its backflow devices.

Similar incidents occur more frequently on a much smaller scale. To view a list of 14 separate incidents compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, click here.

State-approved certification for testers serves to keep these issues to a minimum.

Back to Certification…

There are several requirements which must be met prior to testing certification.

  1. First of all, you must have at least five years of experience working in the plumbing or water purveying industries.
  2. Then you must attend a three-day training course provided by one of Ohio’s approved testing schools. Here you will learn about extensive regulations enforced through the EPA, the Ohio plumbing code, and various municipalities. You’ll also learn how to dismantle and repair various types of backflow devices.
  3. At the end of the course, you must pass a practical exam.
  4. Finally, you need to apply to the Ohio Dept of Commerce for certification. If you meet the state’s requirements (e.g., you have a clean legal background), then you must take the state test. Once you pass the state test, you’ll receive your backflow testing certification card.

The following video clip from Sean Mullarky, owner of TriState Water Workssummarizes the certification process: 


Once you’ve met all the requirements and received you certification, you may then test backflows for irrigation systems.

But wait!  Every three years, state law mandates that you must be re-certified. This requires an additional one day of training and yet another practical exam.

The Benefits – More Work

Certified backflow testers are in high demand. Because Ohio law requires that irrigation systems be tested annually, potential customers will be seeking you out for this service.

We can help promote your testing services. Once certified, your name will be placed on the Ohio IA’s list of Certified Backflow Testers. This list is the second most trafficked page on our website, so it’s sure to generate new business for your company.

Get Started

If you’re ready to begin the certification process, contact APHC Backflow School or Ohio Contractor Training to get started.


Ohio Codes 

TriState Water Works

Online Seminars from 2016 Irrigation Show Now Available

Enhance Your Knowledge of Efficient Irrigation and Water Management

If you weren’t able to take advantage of the 2016 Irrigation Show’s numerous educational opportunities, you’re in luck! All of the landscape irrigation seminars from this year’s show are now available for purchase at the Irrigation Association online store.

These one-hour online seminars address the underlying how-to’s of efficient irrigation and water management. All five seminars cost $28 each for members and $38 for nonmembers. Each seminar is worth one continuing education unit. 

These courses run interactively in the IA’s learning management system and are not downloadable. (Please note that you may receive continuing education units only once per certification renewal period for these seminars.)

To access all seminars available through IA’s online store, Click Here.

Seminars from the 2016 Irrigation Show and Education Conference include the following:

Auditing: Soil Moisture vs. Catch Cans

Catch-can audits measure sprinkler performance, while portable soil moisture sensors measure the effectiveness of the irrigation. Both methods are valid, as they both help correlate sprinkler performance with soil moisture uniformity. Uniformity affects irrigation scheduling and, ultimately, the appearance of the turfgrass, as evidenced below:

This seminar is presented by Brian Vinchesi, CIC, CID, CGIA, CLIA, CLIM, CLWM.

Click Here to purchase.

Earning Points for Green Projects

A common goal of most green programs is to reduce or eliminate the use of potable water in landscape irrigation. This seminar looks at various volunteer green programs, such as LEED, Sustainable Sites and Green Globes. It also considers the prerequisites, and explains how points are awarded for irrigation systems and the use of alternative water sources.

This seminar is presented by Doug Macdonald, CLIA.

Click Here to purchase.

Evapotranspiration and Irrigation Management

ET information is often used to provide a reference for determining the amount of water applied to plants. This presentation looks at:

  1. The location of weather stations compared to the site being managed,
  2. How ET is calculated, and
  3. What to consider when modifying the reference ET to estimate water requirements for different types of plants.

This seminar is presented by Brent Mecham, CID, CLWM, CLIA, CAIS, CIC, CGIA.

Click Here to purchase.

Measuring Landscape Water Use

Based on numerous residential and commercial audits, this seminar presents findings on the amount of water used in the landscape compared to estimated water demand. It also includes a look at both irrigation performance and landscape composition, with emphasis on how irrigation efficiency can be improved.  

This seminar is presented by Kelly Kopp, PhD. 

Click Here to purchase.

Water Quality of Alternative Water Sources

Not all sources of water are fit for plants. This seminar will addresses water quality issues with various alternative water sources. It explains how to determine if water is treatable or unfit for irrigation landscaping purposes. The course provides valuable information when considering the use of on-site alternative water sources for irrigation systems.

Click Here to purchase.

Additional information about these seminars and other seminar topics  is available on the Irrigation Association website


Irrigation Association

Estimating Workshop for Irrigation Contractors February 20, 2017 by JR Huston

You’re Invited to the OIA Annual Meeting, January 16 at MGIX

The Ohio Irrigation Association (OIA) annual meeting, held in conjunction with MGIX 2017, will be followed by a FREE reception at Barley’s Brew House.


email_sig_mgix17When: Monday, January 16

Time: 6:00 pm to 6:45 pm
(Reception following at Barley’s Brew House)

Where: The Greater Columbus Convention Center – Room C150

Reception – Free Beer, Wine and Food

draft-beer-979210_1920Join Ohio Irrigation Contractors

When: Monday, January 16

Time: 6:45 pm to whenever

Where: Barley’s Brew House, 467 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio (across the street from the Convention Center)

Reception and Door Prizes Courtesy of HunterRain Bird and Toro

Don’t miss out on the best party of the year! Mingle with old friends, vendors, and manufacturers’ representatives. Hunter, Rain Bird, and Toro personnel will be there, as well as the Board of Directors for the Ohio Irrigation Association.

Find out how others fared through 2016. Learn about new products and old tricks. Get the latest news and views from experts. Companies from all over the state of Ohio will be represented.

We’ll See You There!

Winterizing a Landscape Irrigation System

(Note: This article originally appeared in SportTurf Magazine)

Winter ImageThe dreary days of November remind us that it’s time to start thinking about preparing your irrigation systems for winter. Water expands when it freezes. Since automatic irrigation systems are usually buried only about twelve inches below the surface of the soil, water left in an irrigation system in freezing climates over the winter, even a mild winter, will certainly freeze — causing damage to pipes, fittings, valves, and sprinklers. Damage caused by a frozen irrigation system can be expensive and time consuming to repair next spring. Preventing winter damage by properly winterizing the irrigation system is important. Using compressed air to force water out of the irrigation system is the most common method of winterization. However, irrigation systems equipped with automatic or manual drain valves do not require compressed air to winterize. Only the installing contractor will know if an irrigation system is equipped with automatic or manual drain valves. If you are not sure what type of irrigation system you are winterizing, then use compressed air. Using compressed air on an irrigation system equipped with automatic or manual drain valves will not harm the components of the irrigation system, and will ensure the irrigation system is properly winterized.

Selecting an Air Compressor

Sulliar 185 Portable Air Compressor

Sulliar 185 Portable Air Compressor

A properly sized air compressor is critical in effectively and efficiently blowing air into the irrigation system, forcing any water out. Air compressors are available in various sizes. The most common portable air compressor, which represents roughly 80% of the portable air compressors going into rental fleets today, is the 185 portable air compressor. This machine is rated at 185 cfm at 100 psi at full load. You can find one through a contractors’ equipment rental shop that is more than adequate to get the job done for most residential and commercial irrigation systems. Smaller 5 h.p. electric air compressors, although capable of delivering 100 psi, are not capable of delivering enough volume of air to adequately winterize an irrigation system.

Compressed Air Winterization

The first step in winterizing an irrigation system is to shut off the water to the irrigation system at the point of connection. The system shut-off valve may be a ball valve or gate valve located in the basement or directly after the water meter. Then open a zone valve to relieve the system pressure. Attach the air hose from the air compressor to the blow-out point. The blow-out point is usually located directly after the backflow device. The blow-out point may be a quick coupling valve, a hose bib, or a boiler drain. In this technical drawing the blow-out connection is the quick-coupling valve located in the valve box.

A note of caution: The expanding air coming from the air compressor into the irrigation system will get hot and may melt the plastic pipe. Carefully check the temperature of the air-hose connection at the blow-out point. Slow down or stop momentarily if it feels too hot! Cycling through each zone two or three times for short intervals will prevent too much heat buildup.


Winterizing an irrigation system with compressed air

Air Compressor Settings

Set the pressure regulator on the air compressor at 50 to 80 psi. On smaller residential systems, where the zones are typically about 10 gpm or less, open one electric remote control valve manually and cycle through all the other zones two to three minutes by manually opening each valve or by electrically operating each valve at the controller. Opening one valve manually will help to keep the air com- pressor from building up too much pressure while assuring an adequate volume of air to thoroughly blow out all the water in the sys- tem. On larger systems it may not be necessary to open one valve manually. Allow the air to flow through each zone until water and water vapor no longer appears from any sprinklers in the zone. Start with the zone with the highest elevation in the system or farthest from the point of connection, blowing out each zone successively toward the point of connection. It is a good idea to cycle through each zone two times to ensure there is no water remaining that might settle into a low point in the lateral pipe.

Automatic Drain System Winterization

Although using compressed air is the most common method for winterizing an automatic irrigation system, there are two other types of automatic irrigation systems. The first type is a system equipped with automatic drains. The automatic drains open when the system pressure falls below 10 psi. For these systems it is usually only necessary to turn off the water. Open a drain valve after the point of connection. Prepare the backflow device and controller for winter as noted below. Some irrigation systems incorporate automatic drain valves on the laterals and manual drain valves on the main line. The manual drain valves will be located in small valve boxes at the end and at low points on the main line. Open the drain valves, and allow the water to drain out completely. Then close the drain valve.

Manual Drain System Winterization

An irrigation system equipped with manual drain valves requires you to locate the drain valve for each zone and the main line. The manual drain is usually located in a small valve box at the end of the zone and at every low point. Also, the main line will have a manual drain at the end of the line and at every low point. Open each drain valve, allowing all the water to drain out, and then close the manual drains. Winterize the back- flow device and irrigation controller as noted below.

Backflow Winterization

Backflow Installation Detail

Typical PVB backflow installation.

There are two backflow devices utilized in landscape irrigation systems. The most common is a pressure vacuum breaker. Open the top of the pressure vacuum breaker and remove the internal discs and springs. Storing these components near the irri- gation controller makes them easier to find next spring. Turn the handles on the two ball valves and all test ports to a partially open 45 degree position. Ball valves, when fully closed or fully open, will trap water in between the ball and the valve housing. The valve housing will crack during a freeze if not left partially open.

Some newer pressure vacuum breakers are freeze resistant, with a built-in relief valve to protect the internal components and the body from freezing. It is not necessary to remove the internal components in these devices.

The other type of backflow device used in irrigation system is a reduced pressure principle backflow device, or RPZ. It is usually best to remove this device completely during the winter and store indoors. Then cap the pipes to the irrigation system. If removal of the RPZ back- flow device is not possible, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for winterization. Each manufacturer has specific instructions for winterizing their reduced pressure principle backflow device.

Irrigation Controller and Rain Sensor Winterization

To prepare the irrigation controller for winter, simply turn the contoller to the off or rain shutdown position. You can also disconnect the power and remove the battery but this is not necessary. It is important not to allow the controller to cycle through an irrigation schedule without water in the system because the remote-control valves require water to move through the solenoid assembly to cool the assembly.

If your irrigation system is equipped with a rain sensor or a soil moisture sensor, it is not usually necessary to cover or remove the sensor for the winter. Check with the manufacturer to make sure the sensor does not require any special instructions for win- terization.

Pump Winterization

Submersible pumps, located in a lake or stream, have a check valve at the pump which needs to be removed to make certain the discharge hose does not freeze. It is adviseable to simply remove the pump and discharge hose from water each winter, reinstalling it in the spring.

Centrifigal pumps have a drain valve located at the base of the pump housing that needs to be removed and stored for the winter. The power supply for the pump should also be disconnect- ed to prevent the pump from being accidentally turned on with- out any water. A pump running without water will quickly burn up. Additionally, if the pump is drawing water from a lake or stream, the intake hose has a foot valve located at the base of the suction line. So it is necessary to remove the intake or suction line completely from the water and store it for the winter. Sometimes a check valve is also located on the discharge side of the pump. This check valve needs to be removed and stored for the winter.

Preparing an irrigation system for winter can be a complicated process. A knowledgeable professional is essential to minimize freezing water damage. An improperly winterized irrigation system can be an expensive proposition next spring.

Every Drop Counts…July Is Smart Irrigation Month


It’s that time of year again…July is Smart Irrigation Month and, as usual, there are many ways  for businesses and consumers to participate in the campaign.

First launched in 2005, Smart Irrigation Month continues to gain traction each year as consumers and irrigation specialists alike recognize the positive impact efficient irrigation and water use provides to all of us.

Give this a try!

Place a few empty tuna cans around your lawn while you’re watering and measure how long it takes your sprinkler to fill them with a half inch of water. Then, try watering that amount of time twice a week, gauge how your landscape responds, and adjust based on weather conditions. Or simplify by replacing your standard clock timer controller with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller.

Smart Systems

Among the strategies being presented to consumers, first and foremost is proper programming of automatic watering or sprinkler systems to deliver just the right amount of water at the right time. Additional strategies include:

  • smartProper landscaping, keeping soil healthy, mulching and routine landscape maintenance
  • Investing in an irrigation system that uses the best, most flexible, components, has “smart” controls, and meets code requirements
  • Watering during the evening and early morning to prevent evaporation, taking soil type and sprinkler placement into consideration
  • Maintaining the sprinkler system regularly by adjusting sprinkler heads, repairing leaks and monitoring pressure


According the the EPA’s WaterSense website, adopting water–savvy habits also is essential to maintaining and extending our communities’ water supplies, especially during peak use. WaterSense partners with manufacturers, retailers/distributors, and utilities to bring high-performing, water-efficient products to the marketplace. WaterSense also partners with professional certifying organizations to promote water–efficient landscape irrigation practices. Since the program began in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save a total of 1.5 trillion gallons of water, resulting in more than $32.6 billion in water and energy bill savings.

Smart Ideas

Since July is the peak month for water consumption, the national Smart Irrigation campaign is encouraging industrial firms and professionals to promote smart irrigation practices and technologies, as well.   Here are some of the many  “Smart Ideas” to promote the national campaign that are listed on the Irrigation Association website:

  • SIM_LogoAdd the Smart Irrigation Month logo to your web site, ads, customer presentations, field signs, invoices and more.
  • Submit a press release or letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
  • Ask employees to add the Smart Irrigation Month logo to their e-mail signature block.
  • Hand out Smart Irrigation Month bumper stickers at your next contractor meeting.
  • Host a live demonstration of water-saving irrigation technologies, in the field or at your location.
  • Feature water-efficient products and services in displays, ads, promotions and product demos with the Smart Irrigation Month logo.
  • Use a banner, outside signage or counter sign to encourage customers to ask about how smart irrigation can save water and money.
  • Smart Irrigation Controller RebateMake smart irrigation the theme of sales calls.
  • Stick a Smart Irrigation Month label on every box that goes out the door.
  • Give awards to customers and/or business partners who promote water-efficient practices.
  • Volunteer to speak to a local homeowner association, garden club or civic group.
  • Distribute copies of the Smart Irrigation Month coloring book at a farmers market or county fair.
  • Ask your local radio station to play a public service announcement, promoting July as Smart Irrigation Month.

What are YOU doing to promote Smart Irrigation Month?  Remember…Every Drop Counts!


Irrigation Association,

EPA WaterSense,



IA Certified Irrigation Contractor Training

Irrigation Association Certified Irrigation Contractor Training

March 8th and 9th, 2016 – 8:00 a.m to 5 p.m.

*Exam – March 10th 8:00 a.m. to noon (seperate registration with the IA is required 14 days in advance. Click here to register for the exam.)

Eventbrite - IA Certified Irrigation Contractor Training


Wolf Creek
6700B Huntly Road
Columbus, Ohio 43229

phone: (614) 985-3070
fax: (614) 985-3099
toll-free: (888) 690-1864

Presented by The Wolf Creek Company and the Ohio Irrigation Association

Certification gives you a competitive edge. Become a certified irrigation contractor and:

  • Add instant credibility with customers and employers.
  • Increase job opportunities.
  • Demonstrate your commitment to efficient water management.
  • Qualify for the EPA WaterSense program.

CIC Overview

  • CICs install, maintain and repair irrigation systems. CICs:
  • Execute irrigation projects to meet all specifications and requirements.
  • Prepare installation sites, including layout, staking, excavation, boring, trenching, grading and back-filling.
  • Cut and join pipe, know the limitations of different piping systems, and understand basic hydraulics.
  • Lay out and install piping and water delivery components; backflow prevention components; mechanical, hydraulic and electrical irrigation controls; and other irrigation system components.
  • Troubleshoot and repair irrigation components and systems.
  • Understand good business practices; construction contracts and their legal rights and obligations; and licensing laws and codes in their state.

Becoming a CIC

To become a CIC, you must:

  • Register for the exam. Minimum requirement: three years of irrigation-related field experience.
  • Pass the irrigation contractor exam. The 3-1/2-hour exam includes 150 equally-weighted, multiple choice questions on irrigation design, irrigation installation, irrigation scheduling, water management and conservation, maintenance and repair, federal laws and codes, and general business management. Candidates have three and a half hours to complete the exam.
  • Comply with the Select Certified Code of Ethics.
  • Remain in good standing. CICs must submit 20 continuing education units per 2-year cycle.

REGISTER for the EXAM Seperately – March 10, 2016 from 8 a.m. to Noon


Sponsored by The Wolf Creek Company and the Ohio Irrigation Association

Cost – $150 includes book and lunch (contractors who complete the calss will recieve $100 Wolf Creek Credit)

Eventbrite - IA Certified Irrigation Contractor Training

New Ohio Law Regulates Booster Pumps

A new Ohio law regulates Booster Pumps

Water PumpIn summary, this new law requires the following for booster pumps installed on a water service connection:

  • The booster pump must be equipped with a low pressure cut-off device set to 10psi.
  • The low pressure cut-off device must be tested at least every 12 months.
  • The supplier must maintain electronic or paper records of all booster pumps installed for five years.

This law went into effect October 2015. Here is the complete text of the law:

3745-95-07 Booster pumps.

(A) No person shall install or maintain a water service connection where a booster pump has been installed, unless an approved method is in place and is operational to maintain a minimum suction pressure as prescribed as presented in the following:

(1) For booster pumps not intended to be used for fire supression, no person shall install or maintain a water service connection to any premises where a booster pump has been installed on the service line to or within such premises, unless such booster pump is equipped with a low pressure cut-off desinged to shut-off the booster pump when the pressure in the service line on the suction side of the pump drops to ten pounds per square inch gauge or less.

(2) For booster pumps used for fire suppression, also referred to as fire pumps, installed after August 8, 2008, no person shall install or maintain a water service connection to any premises where a fire pump has been installed on the service line to or within such premises, unless the pump is equpped with one of the following:

(a) A low suction throttling valve which is a pilot-operated valve installed in the discharge piping that maintains positive pressure in the suction piping, while monitoring pressure in the suction piping through a sensing line. The valve must throttle the discharge of the pump when necessary so that suction pressure will not be reduced below ten pounds per square inch gauge while the pump is operating.

(b) A variable speed suction limiting control which is a speed control system used to maintain a minimum positive suction pressure at the pump inlet by reducing the pump driver speed while monitoring pressure in the suction piping through a sensing line. It will be set so that the suction pressure will not be reduced below ten pounds per square inch gauge while the pump is operating.

(3) For booster pumps used for fire supression, also referred to as fire pumps, installed prior to August 8, 2008, which are equipped with a low pressure cut-off as defined in paragraph (A)(1) of this rule, are not required to modify the installation solely for the purpose of meeting the new methods accepted after this date, under paragraph (B)(1) of this rule.

(B) It shall be the duty of the water consumer to maintain the low pressure cut-off device, the low suction throttling valve, or the variable speed suction limiting control in proper working order and to certify to the supplier of water, at least once every twelve months that the minimum suction pressure sustaining method is operable and maintained in continuous operation.

(C) The supplier of water must maintain electronic or paper records of inventory of booster pump installations. Electronic or paper records certifying operation must be retained for a period of five years.

(D) The provisions of this rule shall be followed notwithstanding inconsistent provisions in the Great Lakes-Upper Mississippi river board of state and provincial public health and environmental manangers’ or “Recommended Standards for Water Works” (2012).Recommended Standards for Water Works (2012)

[Comment: “Recommended Standards for Water Works” 2012 edition. Copies are available from “Ohio EPA, Lazarus Government Center, 50 West Town Street, Suite 700, Columbus, OH 43215, (614) 644-2752” or online at or]

Replaces: 3745-95-07

Effective: 10/26/2015
Five Year Review (FYR) Dates: 10/26/2020
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: 6109.04
Rule Amplifies: 6109.046109.13
Prior Effective Dates: 07/01/72, 11/26/80, 05/01/03, 08/08/08

Marketing – The Ultimate Growth Engine for Irrigation Contractors

The Economy is Good

A Plant in a pile of gold coinsThe economic recovery is in full swing and, for the landscape industry, it is predicted that 2015 total industry sales will exceed pre-recession level sales. A recent Forbes article by Bill Conerly stated, “The economic outlook for the United States in 2015 looks solid.”

Profitability is up, home starts are up, and the home improvement market is forecasting accelerated growth through the first quarter of 2016.

Yes, business outlook for landscape and irrigation contractors is excellent.

The question is how can you capitalize on the growth?

The short answer is marketing. And it has never been easier or more affordable to stand out from the crowd than in today’s internet-driven consumer marketplace.  Yet, in our digital age, marketing has never been more confusing. In short internet marketing has a lot of noise, jargon, and confusing best practices. You need a website, you need SEO (whatever that is), Adwords, Google, and this social media thing drives me bonkers. I’ll ask three marketers what to do and I get six answers.

How do you cut down the noise? Most companies simply give up. Maybe they’ll send out postcards or take out an ad in the local lifestyle magazine because that’s what we’ve always done.

First Things First – Outstanding Customer Service

Green LawnDespite all the change and chaos, as some things change, while other things stay the same.  Great customer service never goes out of fashion. Take care of your existing customers while your competition offers panic driven discounts. Know your customers. Talk to your customers. Great customer service is all about communication.

Great customer service also means great quality. The value proposition of your company depends upon delivering what a customer wants. It also depends on delivering it when your customer wants it. Finally, delivering all this at a value a customer expects is what separates you in the market. Quality has never been more important.

Satisfied customers are still your best source of new customers. The value of a referral will always be number one. Several landscape industry studies have discovered that over 70% of homeowners add an enhancement like an irrigation system to their landscape because their neighbor has added an irrigation system to their landscape.

Brave New World – The Internet

The bright side to developing referrals is that the internet easily allows us amplify and develop excellent ratings. Conversely a poor rating can cost your business. Over 80% of consumers Google your business before they ever call you. A five or four star rating can put your business over the top. But how do you get there?

Start with Your Website

With the widespread adaptation of smart phones and tablets, it is critical to have a mobile responsive website – a website that effectively communicates your message across all platforms. We recently completed a consumer Facebook advertising campaign and discovered over 80% of our audience viewed our ad on a mobile device.

If your website is over two years old it probably needs to be upgraded.

An effective website is more than just a beautiful internet brochure. Your website has two primary audiences. The first audience is Google. Google will deliver over 70% of your web traffic. Google ranks you website on three primary criteria:

  1. Relevancy – does your website contain the term being searched by the consumer?
  2. Recency – a newer post on your website will outrank an older post on your competitor’s website. So it you are not continuously adding information to your website you will loose your Google ranking.
  3. Location – today’s web browsers tell the search engines where the consumer is located and will deliver the consumer to the nearest available business.

Content is King to Google

All the beautiful pictures in the world will not help Google find your website. Google reads text.  It takes words and more text is better than less.

It takes the correct words consumers use when searching for an irrigation contractor, which are not the words we use to describe ourselves. Knowing that consumers, when searching for an irrigation contractor search “sprinkler” and “lawn sprinklers” more often than searching for “irrigation,” “irrigation contractors,” and “automatic irrigation systems” is important.

Going Local

Google My BusinessOne of the greatest advantages a local irrigation company has over a national company is being “local.”  Your location and the markets you cover has to be clearly identified within your website, preferably on your home page.

Google My Business is a free service that allows you to set up your business to appear on the right side of Google search results. It takes about an hour to set up and allows your customers to review and rate your business. You’ve likely seen this when Googled a company or a local business and their Google My Business profile showing up in your search results.

Developing Your Sales Funnel

A good website, one that is both attractive to prospective customers and easily found by search engines, is the starting point for developing a sales funnel.  At this point you are further ahead than 80% of your competitors.

Once an interested client reaches your website ask yourself, “What happens next?”

funnelDeveloping a relationship with prospective customers is often the most misunderstood aspect of marketing.

Where do you start?

How do you do it?

You start with an email. Emails are forty times, not 40%, more effective at converting a prospect into a customer than any other media available today. I know this seems hard to believe given our aversion to spam. However, spam is an unwanted email. The key distinction between spam and an email that you want to read the email; you don’t want to read the spam.

There are two primary factors to consider when developing an effective email campaign. The first factor is developing content that your prospective audience wants to read and see. The second factor is building an audience that is interested in your business.

Think Like Your Clients

Content comes first because you cannot build an audience without information. The landscape industry is a very visual, life-style industry. Your audience wants a beautiful landscape. Think like your customers. Take pictures; take lots of pictures. Post them on your website. Write a brief description about your projects. Gather testimonials from your satisfied clients and tell their story to your prospects.

Remember, 70% of homeowners add a feature to their landscape because their neighbors did. Build on the momentum.

The Top of the Funnel

Next build your audience. If you offer something valuable, your prospective clients will give you their email address. Free E-Books offers are great ways to attract prospective clients. Gather as many email addresses as possible.

Send emails regularly through one of the many online email marketing solutions. These programs help you set up marketing automation based upon your subscribers’ activity, allowing you to target messages that are interested in working with you and your company.

Social Media Adds Support

After you have setup your website, developed an email marketing campaign, social media can add support to your marketing. Facebook, Pinterest, and Houzz are visually attractive consumer social media outlets that can broaden your audience and reinforce your message.

Advertising Doesn’t Work; Marketing Does

The average U.S. consumer is exposed to over 3,000-brand messages everyday. It’ is no wonder that advertising doesn’t work. However, people love to buy (they hate to be sold). Developing relationships with prospective clients has never been easier.

Make it fun, informative and attractive.

And you will be on your way to creating the ultimate growth engine for an irrigation company.

Cincinnati Certified Irrigation Expo – February 11 & 12

Ohio Irrigation Association Presents Certified Irrigation Expo

Training ClassWHEN

Wednesday & Thursday, February 11 & 12, 2105


$100 per person – Two Day CIC Training & Vendor Dine Around
$80 per person – One Day CLIA Training & Vendor Dine Around (Thursday, February 12th only)
$25 per person – Irrigation/Lighting and Trade Show, Product Updates and Vendeor Dine Around (Thursday, February 12 only)

Vendors in attendance includes – Hunter, Rain Bird, Toro, FX, Corona, Kichler, Spears, Blazing and more


Tommy Johnson
Tel: 513-383-3491
Click Here to Email

John Benson
Click Here to Email

Event Schedule

Wednesday, February 11 Thursday, February 12
John Deere Landscapes
4055 Commercial Blvd.
Cincinnati, OH 45245
RSVP Event Center
453 Wards Corner Road
Loveland, OH 45140
Time: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm: CIC Training
(Box Lunch will be provided)
8:00 am - 4:00 pm: CIC & CLIA Training
(Box Lunch will be provided)
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm: Irrigation and Lighting Trade Show, Product Update
4:00 pm - 7:00pm: Dine Around

Brave New World – Trends and Opportunities in the Emerging Green Environment

Tom Barrett Portrait

Tom Barrett

Three Latest Trends

Tom Barrett, an international business consultant and a nationally known landscape and irrigation industry expert, keynoted the Ohio Irrigation Association’s Annual irrigation contractor meeting at the CENTS convention on January 7, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Tom’s presentation focused on the top three latest trends:

  • Current economic conditions;
  • National industry trends in the environmental movement; and
  • Social trends that affect the emerging purchasing behavior in today’s consumer.

In 2014 the irrigation and landscape industry grew between 6% to 8% across the nation. However, this trend was not uniform throughout the country or even in metropolitan areas. Wealthy areas, like northern Columbus, Ohio, experienced greater growth than poorer areas of the city and the country.

In 2015 Expect a 9% Increase in Commercial Construction

Dodge Reports,  the largest provider of commercial construction project plans and news, latest trend reports a 9% increase in commercial construction projects for 2015. Overall, the economic outlook is good for landscape and irrigation construction.

University of Cincinnati Extensive Green Roof

Extensive Green Roof at the University of Cincinnati.

Water Pollution Caused by Stormwater Runoff Creates Additional Opportunities

The increasing emphasis in environmental issues through the world can also benefit landscape and irrigation contractors. The U.S. EPA is coming under increasing scrutiny for water pollution caused by stormwater runoff.

Over 175 communities across the United States have stormwater systems that feed stormwater through their sewage treatment facilities. It seems wasteful to treat rainwater as sewer water but, more importantly, the sewage treatment facilities are not designed to handle the large volume of water that occurs from a rain event. Such facilities, with as little as a 1/4 inch of rainwater, will overflow the rainwater mixed with untreated sewerage into the local waterways.

University of Cincinnati Extensive Green Roof

Extensive Green Roof at the University of Cincinnati.

The issue of stomwater runoff was especially noteworthy in Ohio where the pollution in Lake Erie forced the City of Toledo to shut off it water supply to half a million people for three days this past summer.

Green infrastructure has been heralded as a more efficiency and effective solution to the nation’s water pollution issues. Green infrastructure utilizes living plant material to create a more natural method for stormwater mitigation.

The following green infrastructure methods are areas that require greater landscape and irrigation contractor expertise and participation:

  • rain gardens;
  • bioswales;
  • green roofs;
  • rainwater harvesting; and
  • condensate recovery.

 Social Trends

Finally, in closing, Barrett’s presentation focused on three broad social trends most landscape and irrigation contractors are missing out on:

  1. Digital marketing and social media;
  2. Aging population; and
  3. Dramatic increase in women’s affluence in the United States.

There were several questions from the audience about the lower prices for gasoline predicting an economic recession. Barrett replied that he did not see lower gasoline prices reducing the demand for landscaping and irrigation.

Business Do Not Create Jobs; Consumers Create Jobs

In fact, Barrett went on to say, “The current economic recovery has missed the mark in job creation by focusing on large multi-national corporations. 70% of jobs in America are created by smaller business with fifty or less employees. Additionally, no business will create jobs without consumer demand. The job creation focus needs to be on putting money into circulation through consumers.”

Reviews And Comments

The most memorable concept from the presentation was women’s impact in the workforce today.

My favorite part of the presentation was the statistics on how the world is changing.


Brave New World – Landscape Industry Trends

Capture the Growth – Landscape Industry Trends

Your Business!!!

Motivational Speaker – Tom Barrett

Tom Barrett PortraitIf you haven’t heard Tom speak here is your chance…

If you have heard Tom speak you will not want to miss out…

…and it’s FREE

January 7, 2015 – at the Ohio Irrigation Association’s Annual Meeting

(courtesy of our sponsors Hunter, Rain Bird & Toro)

Well known throughout the landscape industry, Tom Barrett,  has a reputation of being an innovator and accomplished corporate growth and change agent. He will be delivering a lively and exciting presentation at the Annual Ohio Irrigation Association’s Irrigation Contractor Reception on Wednesday, January 7th, 2015, 6:30 P.M. at Barley’s Brew House (across the street from the Columbus Convention Center).

Tom’s presentations empower people to become masters of change, rather than victims of circumstance by developing tools for transformative thinking.

The Triangle of Success

  • Marketing – you cannot achieve anything if your potential clients don’t know about you. In the age of digital communication, Tom knows how to best reach your customers.
  • A Plant in a pile of gold coinsMotivation – passion is what drives every business – “Like what you do and do what you love.”
  • Landscape Industry Trends – The opportunity has never been greater for those of us in the green industry to build upon the growing environmental awareness. It will takeleadership to succeed.

“Tom’s been a leader with smart water technologies, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and other emerging technologies well before they became buzzwords at water conferences. It’s impressive to work with Tom because he knows his stuff from the ground up.”

– Jeff Carowitz, Strategic Force Marketing

How can Tom help you? If you want to understand the growing trends in the landscape industry, clarify your strategic vision, and leverage your resources to grow sales and market presence, you’ll benefit from Tom’s experience as a successful business owner and talented communicator.


Irrigation Controller Tips to Reduce Customer Call Backs

With A Few Simple Steps for Irrigation Controller Programming You Can Reduce Your Customer Calls


‘I Just Want a Green Lawn’

Lawn Irrigation Spray HeadMost homeowners with an automatic lawn sprinkler system simply exclaim, “I just want a green lawn.” However, operating and maintaining a home irrigation system can be a challenge. Today’s solid state programmable irrigation controllers easily exceed most of our customers’ willingness to program them.

A far too familiar story when a client calls with a request for irrigation controller help, typically goes as follows:

I wanted to water my lawn more because it was turning brown. I went into my irrigation timer and set station one to run for thirty minutes starting at midnight on start time number one. I then went to station two and set that station to run for thirty minutes starting at 12:30 am on start time number two. I did this up through station number eight but when I get to station number nine I cannot find start time for number nine. What gives here? I thought this was a ‘smart’ timer and what is all this A, B, C, D program stuff?

It is easy to understand client frustrations with the wide range of options available on today’s solid state irrigation controllers. There is an over whelming number of choices. The simplest controllers come with a thirty-six page manual and a rapid start guide. The manuals of the more complex controllers have over one hundred pages.

Hunter Residential Irrigation Timer Rain Bird Residential Irrigation Timer It is easy to forget, most homeowner simply want a green lawn. They had an irrigation system installed to save them time. Their comfort level with automatic control systems starts and stops with the thermostat in their home heating and air conditioning system. It is not that they can not learn how to program a controller, it is that they do not want to learn how to program a controller.

Remember, most homeowners simply want a green lawn. They had an irrigation system installed to save them time and money. Their comfort level with automatic control systems starts and stops with the thermostat in their home heating and air conditioning system. It is not that they can not learn how to program a controller, it is that they do not want to learn how to program a controller.

Back to Basics

Toro Residential Irrigation TimerGoing back to basics is often the easiest way. Forget about complex programming, forget about water budgets, forget about programs A, B, C,and D. We simply want a green lawn. There are four basic elements present in all irrigation controller programs:

1. Rain Bird Residential Irrigation TimerToday’s date and time

2. A start time

3. A run time

4. Days of the week to water

Seven Steps to Setting Any Automatic Irrigation Controller

Step 1 – Set the current date.

Step 2 – Set the current time of day.

Step 3 – Select the program A, B, C or D.

(Select Program ‘A’ unless you have a more complex watering program. Program ‘D’ is usually reserved for drip zones.)

Step 4 – Set the cycle start time.

(An irrigation cycle is a complete sequencing of each station that has time set to run. Each program being used must have a cycle start time set.)

Step 5 – Set the run time for each station.

(Every station must have a run time set in order to water. Typically stations with spray heads are set to run ten minutes. Stations with rotors are set to thirty minutes. Setting a station’s run time to zero will stop any watering from occurring.)

Step 6 – Set the Days of the Week to Water

(Typically an irrigation system will run three times a week but you may live in an area that has watering restrictions, i.e. odd/even water days or you may live in an area with sandy soil that may require more frequent watering.)

Step 7 – Set the irrigation controller to Auto Run.

It really is that simple. If it rains, and the system is not equipped with a rain shut off device, turn the controller off for a couple of days.

Irritrol Residential Irrigation Timer

Keep It Simple

Technology does not save water; people save water. Technology does not want a green lawn; people want a green lawn. Keeping your controller programming simple and straight forward will save you time, money, and headaches.

For Additional Information

Here are links to the major irrigation controller manufacturers’ websites:

Rain Bird Residential Irrigation Timer



Rain Bird



Internet Marketing & Social Media for Irrigation Contractors Presentation

by Tom Barrett

Internet Marketing is Just Plain Confusing!

  • I'd walk a mile for a camel! - Groucho Marx
  • Do you need a website?
  • 80% of consumers have checked you out on the internet before they ever call.
  • This is true for buying a car...
  • ...for buying shoes
  • ...for buying a lawn sprinkler system
  • ...yet 60% of small businesses do not have a website.
  • Looks don't count
  • Search engines count.
  • Top ranking is because of relevancy...
  • ...and newest...
  • ...and closest.
  • The Ohio Irrigation Association's Website
  • Scores a 69 on Marketing Grader
  • It was not expensive.
  • Landscaep Architect's website...
  • is beautiful but Scores a 7...
  • ..and costs a little more,
  • Valley Crest's website...
  • ...scores a 38...
  • ...and costs a lot more.
  • Search 'Ohio Irrigation'...
  • ...ranks #1
  • Search 'Irrigation Ohio'...
  • ...ranks #1
  • Referrals work...
  • Social media is...
  • ....referrals on steriods.
  • We are all ..........them.
  • Billboards
  • Radio
  • Direct Mail
  • Twitter
  • Magazine
  • A landscape contractor...
  • Facebook
  • Ohio Irrigation Association on Facebook
  • So - Do YOU need a website????
  • End the confusion
  • Stop wasting Money
  • Give me a call.

On June 12, 2013, I had fun presenting “Internet Marketing & Social Media for Irrigation Contractors” at webinar hosted by the Ohio Irrigation Association.  Here are my thoughts and comments.

Why a Website?
Why Not a Camel?
I’d Walk a Mile for a Camel”

– Groucho Marx

Most irrigation contractors are as confused about website, internet marketing, and social media as Groucho was about Camels. There is an overload of  information available about the which social media channel to use and how to use it.

And a lot of doesn’t work for irrigation contractors.

In this presentation Tom Barrett cleared up a lot of the myths about internet marketing, websites, social media, and email.


This is excellent information. Just what I am looking for to help my customers.”

– John McKay, Rain Bird

This really cleared up a lot of my confusion. I like seeing the great results we received from our (Ohio Irrigation Association) test of Facebook Advertising.”

– J.C. Wheaton, Centerville Landscaping and Irrigation

Key Points on Internet Marketing

  • Why you, as an irrigation contractor, need a website.
  • You can not judge the effectiveness of a website by its appearance.
  • What you pay for a website varies dramatically and is not always a reflection of its effectiveness in bringing in new business.
  • The audience for your website is both the consumer and the search engines. Here a small change in wording can have a huge impact on being found by an internet search.
  • How social media, and Facebook in particular, can amplify your marketing.
  • Internet marketing is less expensive but more time consuming than conventional marketing.
  • Email converts consumers from looking to buying your product and services.

Here is a copy of the presentation. Feel free to share it with others…

Internet Marketing & Social Media Webinar for Irrigation Contractors

Confused by How to Use Internet Marketing

with Digital Media and Social Media to

Grow Your Business

Free Webinar for Ohio Irrigation Association Members Only

Wed, Jun 12, 2013, NOON – 12:30 PM

Register Today - Hand Drawn BlueGrowing your business with via internet marketing with social media and digital marketing is confusing and often frustrating.

With Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest there are too many marketing choices and most irrigation contractors find themselves into a sinkhole of time wasting activity with little results.

Yet with over 80% of consumers checking out your your business website before ever contacting you, and 60 of all small business having either no website or a poorly designed website.

A well executed digital marketing strategy will put you ‘heads and tails‘ ahead of the competition.

Internet Marketing

This seminar will cover:

  • Websites
    • It is not about the moneyWhy A Website
  • Google
    • Content for Two Audiences
  • The Power of One Multiplied
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Pinterest
  • Converting Traffic into Sales

In this thirty minute seminar you will learn what is most effective in digital marketing and social media specifically for irrigation and landscape contractors. You’ll also learn what not to focus on. You’ll see examples of what has worked for others and end the confusion about social media and digital marketing.
In this webinar you will also learn about the importance of your website. How to leverage your website on social media channels and end the confusion about the best and most affordable ways to promote your business to your customers.

Internet marketing with socia media has never been more affordable for the average business to reach your customers.

Please join me on June 12 for this free thirty minute seminar. You must register for this webinar and is only available to members of the Ohio Irrigation Association.

So if you are not a member you can join today. Click Here to Join

What is an Irrigation Audit?

by Tom Barrett

Saving Water in the Landscape is Precisely What an Irrigation Audit is All About

 Water Conservation

An irrigation audit is a process that develops the maximum efficiency possible from an installed iLawn Sprinklerrrigation system.  Simply, an irrigation audit saves water.  How much water can be saved with irrigation system audit?  In many cases, after an audit, a landscape will use forty to sixty per cent less water than before the irrigation audit was completed.  Can you image saving over fifty percent of the water used in a landscape? This is a lot of water to save.

Saving water in the landscape is precisely what an irrigation audit is all about. Besides conserving water, an irrigation audit reduces fertilizer usage and water runoff. The net result is a better looking landscape. There are fewer wet or dry spots. The landscape thrives when properly irrigated.

It takes a trained professional, knowledgeable in irrigation and the audit process, to develop an effective irrigation audit. There are three steps in developing an irrigation system audit.  Step one is testing the system to be certain all the irrigation system components function properly.  Often, significant water savings are achieved by simply fixing and adjusting the existing irrigation system. The second step is to field test each zone of the irrigation system. Each irrigation zone is operated. The precipitation rate and efficiency of each irrigation zone is collected under actual operational conditions.  The final step in an irrigation audit is to calculate irrigation schedules that are based on plant type, soil conditions, weather patterns, and field test results.

Step One – Test the System

Irrigation Audit Catch Can

The first step in the irrigation system audit is to test the system. During this process the irrigation auditor will make sure all the components of the irrigation system function properly.  A site inspection worksheet is used to record the data. The following components are inspected and tested:

  1. Static Pressure – Test the static pressure of the irrigation system.
  2. Backflow Test – Pressure test the backflow preventer. On commercial buildings the backflow preventer is usually a reduced pressure principle backflow device.  On small commercial and many residential systems the backflow preventer maybe an atmospheric backflow preventer or an atmospheric backflow preventer.  It is important that a trained, professional test the backflow preventer for proper operation.
  3. Zone Test – Operate each station or control zone on the controller.  Visually inspect every sprinkler head to determine if the arc is properly adjusted and the proper nozzle is installed.  Additionally, inspect the sprinkler heads for clogging, leaking seals, missing sprinkler heads, tilted sprinkler heads. Finally inspect the sprinkler to insure that the landscape has not overgrown and is deflecting the spray pattern.  Also, look for sunken sprinkler heads.
  4. Controller Test – Record all current controller or timer settings.  The manufacturer, model, and location of the controller are noted on the site inspection worksheet. The current irrigation schedule is recorded.  The current irrigation watering schedule will be used to determine the amount of water savings achieved after the audit is completed.

Step Two – Irrigation System Field TestIrrigation Audit Image

The purpose of the irrigation system field test is to determine the precipitation rate and efficiency of each sprinkler system zone. During the field test, catch cans are systematically placed, in a grid pattern, throughout the landscape.

Catch cans are specialized water collection devices.  Each station or zone is operated for a specified time.  Usually each station or zone is tested separately. The water collected in the catch cans are measured and recorded.

The precipitation rate of each zone is calculated by measuring the average amount of water collected in each catch can.  The efficiency of the zone is calculated by measuring the variance of the water collected in each catch can.  The smaller the variance between catch can results the more efficient the irrigation system is.  Ideally, a properly installed irrigation system is between 65% to 75% efficient.

Last year we announced a  the release of the first electronic, hand-held catch can reader for irrigation audits. Click Here for more information

Step Three – Creating an Irrigation Schedule

Calculating the irrigation schedule, based upon the actual field information, is where sustainable water savings occur. In calculating the base irrigation schedule the following factors are used to create the most efficient irrigation schedule possible:


Evapotranspiration is the amount of water used by a landscape.  Evapotranspiration is the water loss in the landscape due to evaporation and the water used by plants in transpiration. Evapotranspiration varies by geographic location, seasonal weather patterns, plant material, local site conditions, and soil type.


The type of soil effects the amount of water that can be stored in the soil.  Sandy soils will hold less water than clay soils.  The infiltration or percolation rate will vary by soil type.  The infiltration or percolation rate is how fast a soil type can absorb water.  This will vary based upon soil texture, structure, degree of compaction, and slope.

Plant Materials

Different plants have different water use requirements and different rooting depths.  The size, age, and location of the plants all effect water usage.  Location, exposure, and the active root zone depth all effect plant water usage and must be considered when creating the base irrigation schedules.


The information developed in the Irrigation System Field Test is used to determine how long each zone needs to operate to apply the correct amount of water.  The more efficient the irrigation zone the less time the zone needs to apply water.  Lower precipitation rates will result in longer run times and potentially less water runoff.

Baseline ScheduleGolf Course Catch Can Test

A baseline irrigation schedule is then developed for each irrigation zone. The landscape water requirement is adjusted based upon the efficiency of the irrigation system as determined by the field test information.   The soil type is used to determine how much water to apply.  Additionally, since most sprinkler systems can apply water faster than the soil can absorb water, a maximum run time is developed for each irrigation zone.  This prevents water from running off the landscape.  The soil and root depth determine how long to run a zone. The amount of time between irrigation cycles is also determined by the soil type and rooting depth.  Allowing the water to soak into the soil to the proper root zone depth without saturating the soil for long periods of time is an important feature of an irrigation audit.  Most irrigation systems will never reach this level of efficiency without an irrigation audit.

The objective of a great irrigation schedule is to apply the correct amount of water necessary for the optimal growth of the plants in the landscape.  When properly developed, this prevents over and under watering the landscape.  When the irrigation schedule is not properly developed, shallow rooting occurs with short frequent irrigation cycles or run off occurs when water is applied faster than the soil can absorb the water.

Finally, after the base schedule is developed, the irrigation zone run times are adjusted for seasonality.  Additional adjustments are made throughout the season based on visual inspection to compensate for local factors.

Irrigation audits are an essential part of any water conservation program.  An irrigation audit is a very sophisticated process used to create an optimized irrigation schedule.  Most irrigation systems apply more water than needed to maintain a healthy landscape.  The savings in water is worth the time and expense of an irrigation audit.

Irrigation Association Landscape Irrigation Auditor Seal

The Irrigation Association

An irrigation system audit is a complex process and requires the services of a trained expert.  The Irrigation Association’s internationally recognized Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA) program and examination is widely acknowledged as the industry standard.  To learn more about the Irrigation Association, the Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor program, and the other irrigation industry certifications contact them at:

Irrigation Association

6540 Arlington Boulevard

Falls Church, Virginia 22042-6638  USA

(703) 536-7080
(703) 536-7019 fax

Click here to email


Author’s Biography

Tom Barrett PortraitTom Barrett is an accomplished corporate growth and change agent with over thirty years of industry experience.  Tom is the owner of Green Water Infrastructure. Green Water Infrastructure is a consulting company that integrates water resources for sustainable site development. Tom’s leadership experience, holding executive level positions, drives corporate revenue growth through change and innovation for business start-up’s, corporate expansions, and divisional turnarounds.  Tom has been delivering dynamic presentations and training for over twenty years.  These presentations empower people to become masters of change rather than victims of circumstance by developing tools for transformative thinking.

Tom can be reached at Green Water Infrastructure, Inc., 317-565-9964 or Click Here to Email