Depending on where you build, you may never even consider installing an automatic irrigation system for your houses. But it's a category that's worth taking a look at. According to the California Urban Water Conservation Council Web site (, many new homes now come equipped with some form of clock-driven automatic irrigation. Why the sudden surge in popularity?

“We think it's a good water conservation tool,” says Laurie Berry, new-business development manager for Glendora, Calif.–based Rain Bird Corp., which manufactures irrigation products. “It also saves time for homeowners,” she adds. Because the sprinklers are preset and turn on instantly, there is no need for homeowners to drag out the hose to water the plants. And the systems are efficient, offering full landscape coverage.

Such benefits have helped automatic sprinklers enjoy the same kind of growth as the housing industry itself, says Berry. The products are almost standard in California, where builders install them in front yards, but, she notes, they are also gaining popularity in the East.

No doubt, an automatic sprinkler system is convenient, but it can be misused—using more water than the old-fashioned method if not planned correctly. That's why it's important that builders choose the right product with the right features.

One product that is gaining momentum with residential builders is the drip system. “These systems drip water right at the roots of plants and trees, which is effective for areas close to the house,” Berry says. Optional features include pressure-regulating devices that ensure that the system delivers droplets of water rather than mist, which evaporates too quickly.

Another important feature is a rain sensor, which shuts off the system immediately when it starts to rain, further conserving water. Manufacturers say that such a system, offering both maximum efficiency and water savings, may be in your future.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.