In the United States we are absolutely tied to our concept of surburban lawn, no matter how horrible that is for pollinators, biodiversity and the environment. Even in sections of the country plagued by water shortages, many HOAs and communities demand the maintenance of wasteful, water-hogging suburban lawns. It’s not sustainable.
So finding a way using technology to make this situation vastly better comes Irrigreen. It’s not often that a technology truly revolutionizes the way things are done, but by applying learning from a completely different industry to lawn maintenance, it looks like Irrigreen actually is doing just that.
I had the opportunity to talk to founder and CEO of Irrigreen, Shane Dyer, about their innovative new home irrigation systems.
SPLASH: How and why did you get the idea for improving sprinkler systems? What marketplace need did you see?
The idea of Irrigreen was born out of watching how inefficient traditional sprinklers were spraying on sidewalks and driveways. My co-founder, Gary Klinefelter, has a background in inventing technology for inkjet printers. He actually holds 35 of patents in the space. So, he’s essentially an expert in placing liquids in very precise places. Watering a lawn by “printing” the water is much more precise vs. the mechanical spraying sprinkler heads we use today, and it saves about 50% of the water for the same green grass.
SPLASH: How did digital printing inspire your proprietary technology? – Obviously don’t reveal any secrets.
Irrigreen prints water, instead of haphazardly spraying water like traditional systems. Our sprinkler heads have 14 individual print ports that print water at exact distances and precise patterns to lay an even coat of water across your lawn. The exact shape is determined by a mobile app, controlled by the home owner, and can be reprogrammed at any time.
Irrigreen leverages hyper-local weather data, including heat, wind, precipitation, and cloud cover to accurately predict the exact amount of water your lawn needs and then put that just amount of water down. (SPLASH note: Per the specs, it also traces evaporation, so it will water at the optimal time of day.)
SPLASH: What makes your sprinkler heads so different than your competitors?
Irrigreen is the first and only all-digital Irrigration system. Unlike smart controllers which are readily available and save about 10% of water, Irrigreen’s real differentiator is in the digital sprinkler. No other company on the market makes a digital sprinkler head, and that is how we’re able to save ~50% of water for our customers.
SPLASH: Other than articles like this, how are you getting the word out to consumers about this product?
The majority of our customers find us through friends, family, neighbors etc. We also partner with experts in the space who love Irrigreen and create content for their communities. We do run a small amount of advertising for the product, but it really hasn’t been necessary. After experiencing how traditional sprinkler system spray water in accurately on driveways and sidewalks, and water their lawns unevenly leading to yellow spots and flooded spots, homeowners have been actively seeking out better solutions and finding Irrigreen.
SPLASH: Your company is located in Minnesota, which is not known for lack of water. Why aren’t you down in the southwest, which is facing a huge water crisis?
Minnesota is actually going through a drought right now. We are located there because that’s were our founder lives, and we’ve built a great team there. We sell across the US, though. Anywhere there is a lawn, Irrigreen can be a solution.
SPLASH: How much water does this system save on average (percentage wise)?
~50% vs traditional irrigation
SPLASH: How are you using less pipe and shortening installation time?
One Irrigreen head replaces up to 10 traditional sprinkler heads, so instead of trenching for pipe to 10 heads, you only need to do one line per zone. This saves a lot of time and uses 80% less trenching and pipe. This also means a lot less pipe that can break or leak in your yard causing dead landscaping and flooding.
SPLASH: How with climate change and ongoing drought is this going to help the environment?
Water is a finite resource that will only become more scare as time goes on. About half the water consumed in the US today is used on outdoor spaces, and of that, about 50% of that is wasted. That equates to 2 Billion gallons of wasted water, annually in the US alone. If Irrigeen can replace traditional sprinklers across the US, the impact would be extremely meaningful.
SPLASH: Who actually put together this system? Was it you? Was it a team effort?
The system was developed by our founder and as we’ve grown, we’ve brought in additional resources to continue to improve it. My background was in building companies that connect products to the internet and bring weather data down to the controller.
SPLASH: Is there anything I’ve forgotten to ask that will help our readers better understand the advantages of the Irrigreen system?
Irrigreen is connected product so you can monitor your yard to make sure it is watering normally and update the system from anywhere – even laying on the beach thousands of miles away. Irrigreen is DIY friendly. It’s so easy to install that most customers actually do it themselves. If you have a tape measure you can design your Irrigreen system.
Irrigreen has an easy-to-set-up app that’s based on gaming technology to make it fun and user-friendly to control your watering. It also alerts you If areas of your lawn are becoming too dry, so you can tell it to water. It also tells you if any parts of the system are becoming worn, so replacements can be ordered and installed before a breakdown.
Irrigeen is also compatible with existing water systems and can be retrofitted into existing structures allowing the printer-watering heads and app to reduce water consumption.
As of August 10th of this year, Irrigreen systems can be ordered directly from the manufacturer and Irrigreen will help you determine what parts you need to complete installation at their website.
So by leveraging printing technology and computer precision Irrigreen has crafted DIY-friendly solutions to save 50% of water used for irrigation on average. It will be a game-changer for water bills and conservation whether your area is water-challenged or not.
You can find out more and see the product in action on film at www.irrigreen.com