TIS Smart Systems: Saving Water, Saving Money

Drought, landscape investment, inefficient irrigation systems and rising water prices have homeowners wasting thousands of dollars every year.

Drought, landscape investment, inefficient irrigation systems and rising water prices have homeowners wasting thousands of dollars on water every year.

The cost of water is climbing, drought is a problem for many parts of the continental United States and water restrictions are being enforced regularly.  The average landscape irrigation system in the Houston market accounts for between 70% and 90% of the water homeowners pay for during the warmer months and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than half of that is being wasted.  TIS is an industry leader in water conservation, water management and sustainable landscape solutions.  Our Smart Systems are designed to create a healthy and sustainable landscape environment while eliminating waste through effective water management which leads to a strong return on investment.  A lot of people not “in the know” are asking though, “What is the Smart System and how does it work?”

The TIS Smart System starts with an intelligent design that keeps water traveling under five feet per second which reduces misting.  Our systems are designed to deliver the specific amount of water your landscape needs rather than blindly throwing water around the property.  This innovative design and installation means not only less water consumption (we routinely hit a 40% to 50% reduction), but less maintenance & repair costs as well.

TIS, Houston's premier landscape irrigation company.

Centralized ET based wi-fi controllers provide homeowners the ability to manage the water on their properties in a way that creates a sustainable landscape environment while providing a strong ROI.

Our Smart System is powered by a centralized ET based smart controller that is wi-fi enabled.  This allows for three advantages over standard schedule based controllers; 1) It waters based on plant need, soil type, slope and a host of other site-specific factors, 2) It waters based on real time weather as well as weather forecasts, and 3) It can be accessed remotely for calibration, diagnostics and other maintenance checks.  For example; a typical schedule-based controller is often set to water for twenty minutes three times a week whether the landscape needs it or not but a smart controller monitors the soil moisture and turns itself on to replace exactly how much water is lost to evaporation (sun and wind) and transpiration (what is used by the plants); no more and no less.  The ability to read the weather forecast is also very important.  If your controller is set to water today but rain is expected over the next five days, a significant amount of water can be wasted.  This technology promotes a much healthier landscape that requires little to no input from the home owner while drastically reducing the water consumed by the system throughout the year.  The controller also takes factors like; sun/shade, slope, plant type, soil type, precipitation rate and the age of the plants into consideration while adjusting your settings in real time.

TIS Smart Systems focus on water management.  Conscientious water use is not enough when the technology exists that can keep track of how much water the system is using, where it goes and when there is a problem.  On-site flow sensors, hydrometers and dedicated lawn meters allow our systems to tell us exactly how much water is being used per zone, per cycle, per day, week, month or year.  The flow technology that we use will notify us immediately if there is a leak on your system by sending an email or a text message to multiple parties, to include the homeowner or end user.  If another contractor on site hits the main line or the family dog eats a head, the system knows.  Often times leaks go weeks, months, or even years without anyone knowing about them.  These leaks can be costly and do damage to the landscape or adjacent structures.

Drip technology in beds and rotary nozzles in turf are just two reasons the smart system saves money.

Drip technology in beds and rotary nozzles in turf are just two reasons the smart system saves money.

Other specialized features include rotary nozzles which are up significantly more efficient than traditional nozzles while using as much as 66% less water.  By slowing the water down these nozzles all but eliminate misting, the heavier drop of water produced is not carried away by the wind and the soil has time to absorb the water before it begins to run off toward the street or other low lying areas.  All of our rotary nozzles are attached to taller spray bodies with individual swing joints.  Using a six inch head rather than the standard four inch head allows for higher mowing which means greater savings during the hot summer months because the taller grass shields the soil so as to provide shade for root zones and to reduce evaporation caused by the sun and wind.  This also eliminates those unsightly hot spots due to heads that do not stand tall enough to throw over the top of the grass.  All low lying heads are fitted with check valves so that the heads do not drain when the system is off.  This preserves the water stored in the lateral runs of pipe and prevents water from standing in lower areas or running down the street.

Every one of our Smart System beds are watered with drip technology which is more than 90% efficient.  That is twice as efficient as most spray nozzles on the market.  Because water from drip tubing does not travel through the air it means that none of it is lost to wind, to misting or misdirection by landing on a walkway or other hardscape surface.  Should one plant require more water than the other plants on a zone then we fit that particular plant with a point emitter that delivers more water to that specific location which means the controller does not have to be turned up to cater to one plant.  Mulching over the top of the drip tubing means almost no loss to evaporation and the efficiency rating is then between 95% and 100% as opposed to the 40% to 60% ratings carried by most spray heads.

Deep root watering stakes eliminate waste by delivering sub surface water to deep-rooted plants with pinpoint accuracy.

Deep root watering stakes eliminate waste by delivering sub surface water to deep-rooted plants with pinpoint accuracy.

Smart System trees are fitted with deep root watering stakes.  Many companies will put nothing on the trees, which significantly hurts the trees ability to establish a root network, while other companies use bubblers to purposely flood an area with the intent of the standing water percolating deep into the soil where the tree roots are located  This wastes a significant amount of water and can promote root rot and brown patch fungus in lower areas where excess water pools.  TIS’ use of deep root watering technology ensures pinpoint accuracy in delivering the water well below the surface of the soil, through the clay pan, through the root-ball and to the specific area that we want to encourage the tree roots to establish themselves.  When water is placed on the surface (in tree or turf applications) it encourages roots to grow upward to access the available water rather than downward.  This stunts the growth of the roots, exposes roots to the sun, wind, foot traffic and mower blades which leads to discoloration and a number of health issues.  This sort of shallow root growth in tress is often what causes them to topple during high winds.  Establishing a deep network of roots makes for a healthy tree that is hearty and not prone to toppling or drought.

Finally, every TIS Smart System installation or renovation comes complete with a one year service contract which means we will be on site collecting data and making the necessary adjustments once per week for the first four weeks and once per season for a year.  We adjust heads, adjust nozzles, calibrate the controller and report and repair any damage found.  Maintenance is one of the most neglected aspects of irrigation and we take care of that for you.  Our aim is to create a sustainable landscape environment that requires little to no attention from the home owner.  Feel free to contact us today about a Smart System and turn your irrigation system into an investment that yields a substantial ROI while creating the healthiest, most sustainable landscape environment possible.

John A. Taylor is Vice President of Operations for Zodega-TIS in Houston, Texas. He was awarded the 2013 EPA Partner of the Year Award for his water conservation efforts, sits on the state irrigation board (TXIA), chairs the sub-committee on government relationships and lectures on water conservation through conscientious irrigation and sustainable landscape design. Zodega-TIS focuses on sustainable landscape and irrigation solutions in the Houston market. John is a veteran of the Unites States Marine Corps and lives with his wife and children in the north Houston area.

John has blogged 12 posts here.

17 comments for “TIS Smart Systems: Saving Water, Saving Money

  1. Carol P.
    March 19, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Fascinating! How long has this technology been around? It amazes me every time I see water from sprinklers just sailing on down the street because it’s not just money, water is life! Bravo, Taylor Irrigation!!!!

    • March 19, 2012 at 9:00 pm


      Thanks for the post. This technology has been around for the better part of the last decade though it was rarely used. The interesting thing is that ET, which is what the technology is based on, has been around forever and is the way even a standard system should water. The technology is established and sound… and makes a drastic difference in watering, sustainability of landscape and reduction in maintenance and repair costs as well.

  2. Adrian
    March 19, 2012 at 7:29 am

    How hard is it to change an older sytem to one like this or do you have to start over completely?

    • March 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm


      We renovate existing and older systems as much as we install Smart Systems from scratch. The challenge is ensuring that your landscape looks as good when we leave as it did when we arrived which means no trenchers, only hand digging. This is a little tedious but well worth it. On an existing system we can usually use the main line, the wiring and a lot of the lateral lines too.

  3. LL
    March 19, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I agree with Carol, protecting water is important, not just for savings but for the planet. I wish you guys all the best.

  4. Chuck
    March 18, 2012 at 3:26 am

    good website, better blog!

  5. Anonymous
    March 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    After the drought last year we lost all of our new trees on one side of the house. Does this help the trees too?

    • March 19, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      I am sorry to hear about your landscape but it is a common story from our clients. Yes, the Smart System addresses trees too. You see, most systems only put water on the surface of the ground and that helps trees to a certain extent but on our Smart Systems we install deep root watering stakes on every tree which feeds the trees two to three feet below the surface ensuring that the roots grow deep and this makes for a much healthier tree.

  6. Coco
    March 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    i really enjoyed reading this.

  7. Carl Reva
    March 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm


    I see why you come so highly recommended. Really nice site and outstanding article content that reads much more like a magazine or newspaper than a blog – I really like that John. I look forward to more.


  8. Casey S.
    March 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Very cool.

  9. Earl R.
    March 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    It’s always a pleasure to see what you guys are doing.

  10. Arthur Cook
    March 8, 2012 at 10:52 am

    This is a really cool concept. We dont have a system but i’ll spread the word. This kind of stuff should be code theres no reason it shouldnt be. Good stuff.

  11. Luis Rodriguez
    March 8, 2012 at 3:05 am


    That’s a lot of really good information there and is all very helpful. I’m very interested in all of the technology and what it can do for my current system in the Heights area. I have heard a lot about these et based controllers from a guy I work with. Do you have any literature or links to the smart controller so I can read up on it? That would be great. Do you do this for commercial properties? I would be interested in getting you onto some of my accounts. Thanks for sharing your wealth of information, it really helps. Luis

    • March 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm


      Yes, we have commercial packages featuring all of the technology discussed here but the savings is a lot greater on commercial properties due to the volume of water used. Give me a call and we can start with a system audit so as to figure out whether the smart system is right for your property and determine the status of your existing irrigation as well as calculating savings.

      John A. Taylor
      (832) 799-4657

  12. Fran E.
    March 6, 2012 at 5:49 am

    Great info, John. We spoke to Barbara and she is so happy with her system that I think we are going to go ahead and let you redo ours now. Give me a call so that we can get the ball rolling with that. At lunch the ladies were all discussing what a pleasure it has been working with you within the HOA. Keep up the great work!

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