That spot where you can’t get lawn grass to grow? It may be time to put in a pathway or flowerbed instead. A healthy landscape evolves over time and your watering habits should change with it.
I recently learned a peculiar term in architecture: Thomasson. It’s a name for any feature that once had a purpose, but now, thanks to renovations or remodels, no longer does. Think of a staircase that leads to a blocked door or an empty telephone nook built into a wall.
While it was coined in the realm of architecture, I’ve noticed plenty of Thomassons in residential landscapes as well — particularly those with in-ground sprinkler systems.
Landscapes change and your watering habits should change with them. It may be time to remove an irrigation zone where grass is struggling and put in a pathway or flowerbed instead.
Natural changes to the landscape can create many Thomassons with your irrigation system. Under growing trees and between houses, sod grass is thin due to lack of sunlight. Yet the system still irrigates the area as if the grass is thick and green.
An all-too-common Thomasson I see is the “tree bubbler.” These little irrigation fixtures are added to the base of trees and apply water quickly to a small area to help young trees get established. But they become unnecessary once the tree is established. Applying water at the trunk of a mature tree is not helpful since the tree’s fine, water-absorbing roots are not located there.
Broken bubbler wasting water near a tree.
Blocked sprinkler heads are probably the most disappointing Thomasson I see because many times they’re the result of people trying to do the right thing. For instance, we recommend removing grass to save water. But you also have to remove the irrigation in that area. I have visited many homes where drought tolerant plants and even stone patios were installed on top of functioning irrigation zones. All that effort and expense simply creates a brand-new Thomasson.
Sprinklerheads wasting water on rocks
Try to see the Thomassons in your irrigation system as the opportunities they are: to streamline and save water. I’ve outlined three common ones, but perhaps you can think of others in your yard.
Remember, SAWS WaterSaver Coupons and Rebates can help you eliminate these vestigial water hogs. There’s no time like the present to start saving water.
By Cleveland Powell, a conservation consultant for SAWS. He is enthusiastic about grass taxonomy and milkweed propagation. In his free time, Powell enjoys hiking around area parks in search of intriguing bugs, birds and plants.