Irrigate Your Way to the Best Lawn on the East End

automatic sprinklers watering grass
Photo: Mariusz Blach/123RF

Fall landscaping is in full swing in the Hamptons. The hardworking crews are difficult to miss, but beneath the soil lies a perhaps more important factor in property management: the irrigation system. According to Robert Boyle of RB Irrigation, water is one of the most important elements in keeping a property beautiful. Boyle currently serves as president of the Irrigation Association of New York (IANY), and has more than 30 years of irrigation experience.

How can a homeowner determine if they need an irrigation system? When are a hose and a sprinkler not enough?
An irrigation system is needed when your time is more important, but you still want a beautiful and well-maintained property. Irrigation systems are also a necessity for those who are away from home for long periods of time.

What are the basics that clients should know about their irrigation needs before a consultation with your company?
During the consultation, RB Irrigation will look for indicators of soil condition, whether there is more sun or shade, and what type of water the client has to work with. Once the system is installed, we like to be on the property as much as possible because changing seasons and weather can mean adjustments to the system are necessary, and frequent service ensures that the system works as efficiently as it should. With more intricate properties, visits can be weekly.

Tell us what a day looks like in the life of RB Irrigation.
We have been working on a sunrise-to-sunset, seven-days-a-week schedule since the beginning of April. It’s high season for both installation and maintenance of irrigation, and there are a lot of landscaping changes being made to properties this time of year.

What questions or concerns do you most often encounter with your clients?
Believe it or not, once a customer has decided to use us they have a lot of confidence in us. The one question I get a lot is about the health or condition of the plants. With 30 years of experience I often have that answer, having picked it up in the field. Clients will also ask for recommendations on future plants to work around the system. I always encourage that we get in communication with the designers ,or who it is that will be doing the gardens, and build a relationship.

Would you say your specialty is general lawn care or more geared toward gardens?
I believe it’s both. We love to help customers have a beautiful property and we have to be really good at both, keeping grass and planting beds separate is a key part of that.

How much does living on the beach versus further inland have an influence on your irrigation design?
Within one town you can have many different types and conditions of soil. Being on the beach means that wind becomes a major factor. Living on the beach or further inland brings the question of root system or total plant watering into play.

How are you ahead of the curve in terms of energy and water efficient irrigation systems?
As the president of the IANY it’s my job to promote energy efficient irrigation products. We offer water saving nozzles and Wi-Fi-controlled and automated systems. We also encourage people to water at the right times of day, and in light of the weather conditions.

How often does your team make landscape design recommendations based on efficient water use?
When a system will be using enough water, we do discuss the addition of a separate irrigation system well with the client. This is necessary when the irrigation system will interfere with water use in the house. If you shower early in the morning, but the sprinklers are on at the same time, a separate well might work best.

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