Is Your Landscape Irrigation System Ready for Winter?

Image result for winter residential landscape(Note: Portions of this article originally appeared in SportTurf Magazine)

The dreary days of November remind us that it’s time to start thinking about preparing your irrigation systems for winter.

Here are some tips for winterizing an irrigation system:

Preventing Pipe Damage

Of course, water expands when it freezes. Since automatic irrigation systems are usually buried only about twelve inches below the surface of the soil, any water left in the system over the winter (even a mild winter) will certainly freeze. This causes damage to pipes, fittings, valves, and sprinklers. And this damage can be expensive and time-consuming to repair next spring. So, preventing winter damage by properly winterizing the irrigation system is important.

The following video clip demonstrates the consequences of failing to do so:


The most common method of winterization is to use compressed air to force water out of the irrigation system. However, some irrigation systems are equipped with automatic or manual drain valves. These do not require compressed air to winterize. Check with your installing contractor to determine if your irrigation system has automatic or manual drain valves.

If you’re not sure, then go ahead and use compressed air. Using compressed air on an irrigation system equipped with automatic or manual drain valves will not harm the system components, and will ensure the irrigation system is properly winterized.

Selecting an Air Compressor

Air compressors are available in various sizes. A properly sized air compressor is critical in order do effectively and efficiently blow air into the irrigation system, forcing any water out. The most common portable air compressor (representing about 80% of the portable air compressors in use today) is the 185 portable air compressor. This machine is rated at 185 cfm at 100 psi at full load.

This type of compressor can be found through a contractors’ equipment rental shop, and it’s more than adequate for most residential and commercial irrigation systems. Smaller 5 h.p. electric air compressors, even if they’re 100 psi, do not deliver enough volume of air to adequately winterize an irrigation system.

How-To: Compressed Air Winterization

When using a compressor to winterize your system, follow these steps:

  • Shut off the water to the system at the point of connection. The system shut-off valve may be either a ball valve or gate valve. It should be located in the basement or directly behind the water meter.
  • Next, 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 behind the backflow device. The blow-out point may be a quick coupling valve, a hose bib, or a boiler drain.
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.


  • 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. Then 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 compressor from building up too much pressure, while assuring an adequate volume of air to thoroughly blow out all the water in the system. (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. Blow out each zone successively toward the point of connection. It’s a good idea to cycle through each zone two times, to ensure no water is remaining.

How-To: Automatic Drain System Winterization

Some systems are equipped with automatic drains that 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.
  • Winterize the backflow device and controller (See “Backflow Preventer Winterization” below.)

Some irrigation systems incorporate automatic drain valves on the laterals with 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.

How-To: Manual Drain System Winterization

If your system is equipped with manual drain valves:

  • 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 backflow device and controller (See “Backflow Preventer Winterization” below.)

How-To: Backflow Preventer Winterization

The backflow preventer is the plumbing device attached to the outside of your house. It is the source of water to the irrigation system, and it can can freeze and burst in only a few hours of below-freezing temperatures. So winterizing your backflow preventer is critical.

Here’s how: (Refer to the above diagram.)

  • Turn off the main shut-off valve to the system (1).
  • Using an adjustable wrench, remove the outlet drain plug or spigot (5) on the outside piping.
  • Turn valves (3 and 4) to a 45-degree angle (half-open/half-closed position).
  • Cover/wrap the backflow valve and all copper pipe with a large towel or blanket.
  • Place 2-3 gallon bucket underneath drain (2) and open the drain valve. Generally, 1-2 gallons of water will empty into the bucket. Once all the water has drained out of the pipe, close the drain valve.

How-To: Controller and Rain Sensor Winterization

To prepare the irrigation controller for winter, simply turn the controller to the off or “rain shutdown” position. (You can also disconnect the power and remove the battery, but this is not necessary.) Do not allow the controller to cycle through an irrigation schedule without water in the system. 

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

How-To: Pump Winterization

If you have a submersible pump (i.e., located in a lake, stream or pond), the check valve at the pump must be removed to keep the discharge hose from freezing. The best way is to simply remove the pump and discharge hose from the water each winter, and reinstall in the spring.

If you have a centrifugal pump, follow these steps:

  • Remove the drain valve (located at the base of the pump housing) and store it for the winter.
  • Disconnect the power supply, to prevent the pump from being accidentally turned on without any water. (A pump running without water will quickly burn up.)
  • If the pump is drawing water from a lake or stream, you must remove the intake hose or suction line completely from the water and store it for the winter.
  • If a check valve is located on the discharge side of the pump, it too must be removed and stored for the winter.

Leave It to the Pros

As you can see, preparing an irrigation system for winter can be a complicated process. A knowledgeable professional is essential to minimize damage caused by freezing. An improperly winterized irrigation system can be an expensive proposition next spring.

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!

Ohio Irrigation Association Annual Meeting at the CENTS Show – Monday January 11

You are Invited to the Ohio Irrigation Association’s Annual Meeting

CENTS Show 2016 Annual Meeting LogoThe meeting, held in conjunction with the CENTS Show, will be followed by a FREE Reception at Barley’s Brew House.

Ohio Irrigation Association Annual Meeting

When: Monday, January 11th

Time: 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm
(reception following at Barley’s Brew House)

Where: The Greater Columbus Convention Center

Reception – Free Beer, Wine, and Food

Join Ohio Irrigation Contractors

Draft Beer

When: Monday, January 11th

Time: 6:30 pm to whenever

Door Prizes Courtesy Hunter , Rain Bird & Toro)


Barley’s Brew House

467 North High Street

Columbus, Ohio

(Across the street from the Convention Center)

Don’t miss out of the best party of the year. Mingle with old friends, vendors, and manufacturer’s 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 2013. Learn about new products and old tricks. We will have companies from all over the state of Ohio.

Get the latest news and views from experts.

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.

JR Houston Estimating Workshop for Irrigation Contractors February 18th

Estimating System Overview

In this workshop Landscape and Irrigation contractors will be Introduced to the key components of an effective estimating system.  The pros and cons of each of the six most common methods of estimating used in the market today are discussed in depth.

Training PuzzleWHERE

Ohio Turfgrass Research and Education Facility
2710 North Star Road
Columbus, Ohio 43221

Click Here for Directions


Wednesday, February 18, 2015 from 7:45 AM to 5:00 PM (EST)


$50 – Ohio Irrigation Association Members
$150 – Non-members

Eventbrite - JR Houston Estimating Workshop for Irrigation Contractors

Those who attend will be provided with a detailed explanation of the key principles involved in:
• The estimating budget process
• Calculating and controlling equipment costs
• Calculating labor burden and average wages
• Measuring, allocating, and controlling general and administrative overhead costs
• Reviewing a bid
• Determining general conditions costs in a bid
• Understanding market predisposition
• Understanding the six most common methods of estimating used n the market

Estimating Excel Workbook

Landscape and Irrigation contractors and/or key staff will learn how to use J.R. Huston Enterprises’ MS Excel worksheets (attendees will have to have their own computer) to:

  • Prepare a general and administrative (G&A) overhead and field-labor hour budget
  • Calculate labor burden, average wage, and equipment costs
  • Price/bid projects by the lump sum method
  • Measure, allocate, and control G&A overhead costs
  • Understand the total quality management (TQM) process as it relates to estimating
  • Understand the six most common methods of estimating used in the market today
  • And more…

Attendees will need:

  • A laptop computer with MS Excel and a CD drive
  • A calculator (with extension cord if necessary)
  • Note pad, pens and pencils
  • State unemployment rate *
  • Workers’ compensation insurance (WCI) rates/policy *
  • General liability insurance rates/policy *
  • Medical insurance costs
  • Most recent year-end Profit & Loss (P&L) statement *
  • Current year P&L (if available) *
            * Approximate numbers provided by Jim Huston for start-up companies


Eventbrite - JR Houston Estimating Workshop for Irrigation Contractors

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.


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