Best Practices & Standards

Turf & Landscape Irrigation Best Management Practices

The Irrigation Association developed turf and landscape best management practices to provide stakeholders with tools to understand, implement and manage irrigation systems. BMPs include:

  • Assure overall quality of the irrigation system.
  • Design the irrigation system for efficient and uniform water distribution.
  • Install the irrigation system to meet design criteria.
  • Maintain the irrigation system for optimum performance.
  • Manage the irrigation system to respond to changing water requirements. 

Irrigation System Management

Irrigation schedules should be modified as required to provide supplemental water to maintain a functional, healthy turf and landscape with the minimum required amount of water.


Practice Guideline Summary

(Download the complete Turf & Landscape Irrigation Best Management Practices.)


This guideline was created to facilitate development of specifications that address local landscape needs while protecting water supplies. Policymakers and other stakeholders should adopt only those guidelines that apply to local needs.


To facilitate managing irrigation water use, the irrigation manager, consultant, end-user, owner, maintenance personnel or contractor should:

  1. Create a site map showing the location of each water meter, backflow prevention device, controller, station/zone valves and landscape area served by each valve.

  2. Ensure that a dedicated irrigation water meter has been installed for measuring flow rate and the volume applied to the landscape. The meter should have an electronic flow rate output signal for interfacing with a remote display or with controllers that can detect leaks and manage water.

  3. If necessary, perform an irrigation audit to obtain data for creating a base irrigation schedule.

  4. Provide a monthly base irrigation schedule that reflects site topography, plant type, root zone depth, soil type, infiltration rate, and monthly historical reference evapotranspiration data, and is designed to minimize runoff.

  5. Evaluate the effectiveness of system water management by monitoring and comparing actual use to a target irrigation water budget.

  6. Periodically inspect the irrigation system during operation to verify that sensors and other components are working properly.

  7. Periodically verify visually that plant material is healthy. Use a soil probe to evaluate root depth, soil structure and moisture.

  8. To further conserve water, install soil moisture and weather sensors, rain shutoff devices, drip-micro irrigation and other advanced control systems as appropriate.

  9. When water supplies are limited, manage irrigation systems and schedules based on a site-specific drought response plan that addresses landscape cultural practices and deficit irrigation practices.