Design or Get off the Pot
Frank, Luke, Landscape & Irrigation
Like most any calling, irrigation design combines nuances of creative art with disciplined, proven science. It is called "style with substance." If you want to make a good living, get your education and training and develop some style. If you're trying to make a few bucks, forward it to a professional and ask a finder's fee.
Don't dabble in irrigation design; you make us all look bad. If established standards aren't followed, even the best products can't properly perform, and manufacturers lose confidence with their customers.
Installation becomes a nightmare when flow and pressure aren't considered for designed system capacity, 50-year-old tree roots won't allow a trencher to pass or utility locates don't identify underground infrastructure that can halt a project in its tracks.
Once the system is in the ground, the maintenance contractor looks incompetent because the usual Band-Aids won't solve ongoing hydraulic issues. The property suffers, water waste is imminent, and the community develops a negative opinion of sprinkler gadgetry that doesn't seem to work and runs finite resources right down the curb.
On the other hand, if you've seen enough to know that it's a world that interests you and one in which you can compete, then by all means get your fundamentals and explore your style. It's a noble path with potentially great rewards.
So why listen to a scribbler about some magical path to professional irrigation design? Because, folks, I design, too--I design messages. And just like the ragged blade of a trencher, my mission is to pierce the crust and alter the innards. It's something I always wanted to do, and interestingly worked in irrigation--within my capacity--to get my training.
I spent my high-school summers repairing irrigation on a 100-year-old golf course (needless to say, I had great job security). I also had a great mentor in the course superintendent, who was a firm believer in irrigation automation and progression. He taught me about flow and pressure; coverage uniformity, pipe sizing, electronic valving; and system integrity. The man was wise beyond his years.
While attending journalism school for my fundamentals I worked at the university golf course, which was converting from an antiquated quick-coupler system to a Rain Bird Maxi system.
So I had my journalism and irrigation training firmly in hand when I started working for a large nursery installing irrigation. I spent the next four years planting sprinkler systems and working newspapers as a beat reporter. The newspaper was great journalism experience, but I didn't like the profession much, so I moved into feature writing for green industry magazines. My dual-track training was beginning to pay off. I then joined a "communications firm" where I created irrigation manuals, brochures, speeches, events, commercials, TV shows, posters, calendars and all manner of collateral materials.
Now I spend my days developing strategic communication plans, working in crisis communications, contacting, pitching and escorting media, extracting trade information from experts in the field, and so forth. …