Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL)
Healthy Landscapes - Less Water
Many people choose to hire a landscaper or gardener to maintain their landscape. Whether it's a full service company with responsibility for maintaining the plants and the sprinkler system, or whether it's someone that simply mows, rakes, and sets the irrigation timer, you pay them to keep your landscape healthy and attractive. You also pay the water bill, so you know that in our Mediterranean climate most landscape plants rely on a fair amount of summertime irrigation to thrive, especially if your landscape includes turf grass.
But does your gardener or landscaper know how much water your plants need to be healthy? Do they know how to apply and schedule the water effectively to minimize waste and your cost? If they maintain your irrigation system, do they know how to quickly diagnose problems and fix them to keep the system running as efficiently as possible? Knowing the answers to these questions should be the basic qualifications you demand from anyone maintaining your landscape.
So how can you trust that the person you want to hire will be wise about your water and not just about your plants? One of the best ways is to look for a local QWEL Certified Landscaper. Visit the QWEL website to view a list of program graduates in our area.
If you already have a reliable gardener or landscaper, but you're concerned about high irrigation water use, talk to them about it. Tell them that you want them to take part in the local QWEL education program. If it's a larger company with many employees, talk to the owner and ask that front line employees get the training you want them to have. Upcoming classes are available in both Spanish and English. Here's a straightforward training request slip that you can give them with their next payment.
Questions for the Landscaper
Whether you hire a professional landscaper or do-it-yourself, knowing the answers to the following questions are essential to saving water in the landscape:
- How frequently should adjustments be made to the irrigation schedule?
- What are the application rates of the sprinkler systems being used?
- Are there any local or state ordinances that govern landscape design or irrigation water use?
- What is irrigation efficiency and what are the advantages to an efficient irrigation system? (other than lower bills and saving water)
- What is evapotranspiration and why does it matter?
- Can you name at least five factors that should be considered when creating an irrigation schedule?
- What is a hydrozone?