Watering lessons

A successful sustainable landscape involves the right irrigation as well as the right plants.

October 13, 2011
Lindsey Getz
Industry News

While Fran Lambert got her start in tree conservation, this certified arborist has also become a certified landscape irrigation auditor and certified water manager and helps her clients at Mariposa Landscape & Tree Service to create sustainable landscapes. She’s found that many clients are pleasantly surprised when they realize that a sustainable landscape can be beautiful. There are plenty of native plants and trees that thrive with only minimal water use. Lambert says it comes down to customer education. She offers the following tips on creating a successful sustainable landscape. It’s not just about the right plants – it’s also about attention to detail and the use of smart controllers.

Think ahead. As an arborist, Lambert says she’s trained to think of trees on a long-term basis, not just a year ahead but actually decades. Lambert says this is a great way to think of landscaping as well – plan for a sustainable landscape that will still look beautiful in the years to come. “I urge landscapers not to look at the landscape for today but to think about what it will look like in five or 10 years from now – then plan accordingly from the beginning,” she says. “Then you truly get the client a return on their investment. Teach them what it will take to sustain this landscape for the long-haul and you’ll sell them on it because it’s protecting their future property value.”

Learn smart controllers. Lambert says she typically can save a tree most effectively with the use of a smart controller, and she’d encourage those landscapers who haven’t learned about them to get educated. She believes they’re the way of the near future. “I do believe there are many people in the industry who still haven’t taken the time to really learn how smart controllers work,” she says. “I’ve seen them go into a system and not be operated properly, and that’s unfortunate because it gives the controller a bad name when it was really the operator. You do need to know what you’re doing before you use them.”

Fix the system first. On the same token, Lambert says she’s seen smart controllers installed on broken irrigation systems. “If you install a smart controller on a system that has broken heads or is really inefficient, you’re not going to get the full benefit of the controller,” she says. “Right now we still have rebates in California for smart controllers so there’s a lot of interest, but people need to realize that you cannot make up for an inefficient system simply by installing a smart controller. Landscapers need to make the commitment to get educated and go to classes that are available through vendors or manufacturers. Then they should teach their crews and send them to classes as well.” 


This is one of three stories that appeared in Lawn & Landscape's Water Works e-newsletter. To continue reading about Fran Lambert and Mariposa Landscape & Tree Care:

Growing interests: Fran Lambert’s passion for trees set her on a path to become an irrigation expert.

Hands-on management: The owners of Mariposa Landscape & Tree Service can be found on every job site.