Have you found yourself watering the streets or your driveway? Do you have an irrigation system that is out of date or waters in the middle of a down pour? According to the Irrigation Association (IA), “using an automated irrigation system is one of the best ways to keep your lawn and landscape beautiful and healthy, while minimizing water waste.” IA offers some strategies to water more efficiently, saving both water and money:
Consider “smart” controls, such as a rain sensor, that will adjust water based on rainfall. Hire a contractor, who is licensed and insured to be sure the system is installed correctly. Installing a high quality system now and maintaining it will minimize the total lifetime cost of the system. Occasionally, water utilities will actually offer rebates for water-efficient products, such as the MUD rain sensor rebate. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not only echoes the IA’s recommendations regarding “smart” controls, but also recommends drip irrigation for landscape beds. Drip irrigation waters at a lower volume and goes directly to the plant root, minimizing wasted water due to wind, runoff, and evaporation.
If you already have an irrigation system, zones should be set to water for the particular needs of that area based on the sun and shade exposure, slope of the yard, and type of sprinkler head. Water only when needed as overwatering will lead to poor roots, weeds, disease, and fungus. According to the IA, “Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation.” They also recommend watering in the morning when the sun and winds are low as well as when the temperatures are cooler. Sound familiar? That’s because in previous newsletters and blogs we’ve shared similar recommendations from the UNL Turfgrass Science Program. Also remember to winterize! Winterizing will push water out of the system that could freeze, causing costly damage.
When planning a landscape, the IA suggests choosing plants that thrive in the climate you are in and have lower water requirements, planting them in groups with other plants with similar watering needs, and planting them according to their sun and shade exposure requirements. It is also recommended to mulch around plants and trees as it reduces evaporation, moderates temperatures, increases water retention and controls weeds.
Did you notice how some of these suggestions seem to deal more with turf care and landscape design than an actual irrigation system? A well maintained turf and landscape as well as irrigation efficiency involve all of the components working together.
Chuck Monico, President of CM’s, is 1 of only 5 people in Nebraska to be a Certified Irrigation Contractor, Irrigation Association Member, and an EPA Irrigation Partner! Contact CM's to install an irrigation system or maintain or renovate your existing system.
Smart Irrigation Month
Has nature’s recent precipitation had you singing in the rain… or perhaps the snow? After the challenges the turf endured last year, the rain definitely calls for celebration—we understand if you’re not ready to sing and dance over the snow! According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Turfgrass Science Program, Sarpy and Douglas counties are still considered to be in “severe” drought as of April 30, 2013. While the rain we received is an excellent start to the spring, it is important to begin proper turf care practices now in order to help our lawns recover from the previous year and to prepare our lawns for the possibility of another year of low rainfall.
To help our turf tolerate continued stress due to drought, UNL offers the following suggestions:
- Mow at the same height all year long, and at the highest setting— 3” or more.
- Mow frequently so no more than 1/3 of the blade is removed during one mowing.
- Return clippings to lawn rather than bagging the grass in order for turf to retain nutrients and moisture.
- Aerate at least once, if not twice, a year to reduce soil compaction.
- Check sprinkler heads to ensure they are accurately and efficiently spraying the lawn rather than the street.
- Water deeply and infrequently.
- The best time to water is the morning when there is little wind and lower temperatures.
- Install a rain sensor to prevent your sprinkler system from watering during or after heavy rains.
Remember that precipitation per week is the combined amount of Mother Nature’s rain plus anything you add to it. Excessive watering will only waste water and promote unhealthy growing conditions in a variety of ways.
The University of Nebraska is a tremendous resource for proper turf care practices. We encourage you to read the full articles. Please visit:
We often talk about landscapes creating curb appeal and creating an aesthetically pleasing space. But have you ever had a problem area in your yard that you decided to give up on and just live with it? New landscaping can not only be pleasing to the eye, it can also be a solution to some homeowner frustrations! This year we will focus on how landscaping and renovations can solve common issues that homeowners face. If you have an idea for topics we should cover, please contact us!
Today’s focus is on water flow issues including rain water or sprinkler system runoff. Have you ever had standing water in one part of the yard while another area is bone dry? How about water seeping into your basement, an area that always gets washed out, or water that just doesn’t seem to drain from your yard? You are not alone! These are some of the most common issues we hear about. Practically any change to land will have some effect on the flow of water. These occur from the grading on newly constructed homes, ground settling in new or existing homes, or new construction or renovations from neighboring properties. Luckily, there are many options to consider depending on your individual situation.
CM’s can create, renovate, or re-shape a landscape bed in order to change the flow of water.
We can install a drainage stream bed to create a stone path for water drainage or install drainage tile in order to extend down spouts so water will be directed to drain in the correct direction.
We can also install a retaining structure as needed in conjunction with adequately shaping the turf for proper drainage and to support changes in terrain.
It is important to note that every property is different and each home may require a specific plan of action.
Contact CM’s today to start planning your solution!
What can you say about a spring that has yet to arrive? Sure the grass is green, there are buds on the trees and shrubs, and birds are making nests at the angle of the house and downspout (I have three trees in my yard; you think they could find one of them). The temperatures, on the other hand, are hardly something in which you can revel. You are probably wondering where I am going with this. The cool season grasses - Kentucky blue, the fescue and rye - thrive in the cooler seasons of the year, typically now into June and again in the fall. I encourage you to enjoy the experience. I also urge you to be thinking about those months in between when heat and humidity take the measure of these same grasses. Last season’s experience led us to rethink our typical advice on dealing with fungus in turf.
While we can’t control temperature and humidity, we can do some things to minimize their effect on your turf. Healthy, dense turf withstands most adverse occurrences better than turf that is not so healthy. That is always the first thing we aim for. If you have a lawn that is on the thin side, overseeding is a must until it thickens up.
A well-aerated turf resists disease better. We recommend aerating twice a year.
Pay attention to irrigation amounts and timing. Right now, we are getting more than adequate moisture for turf. As the seasons change, so do rainfall amounts; there is a tendency to overwater. There is no hard and fast rule as to the number of times per week or the number of minutes per zone. It is all about how your turf absorbs the water at the root zone. On slopes, longer irrigation times lead to run-off; break your irrigation into shorter cycles to maximize absorption and minimize run-off. Morning is always the best time for watering turf. Winds are calmer, and the turf canopy has the chance to dry out during the rest of the day.
We never tire of reminding you about keeping you mower blades sharp. We want to cut the grass, not beat it into submission. Disease is more likely to enter a plant through a grass leaf with a ragged edge. We also believe in leaving the clippings where they fall; bagging removes nutrients that you have paid for. The only time you should bag is when you have an active disease process in your turf. Frequency is also important. Turf growth determines when you mow, not trash pick-up. Mow so that you never remove more than one third of the crown at any one mowing. When turf is growing more rapidly, you mow more frequently.
That brings me to fungicides. As a rule, most disease outbreaks end in recovery in the fall with cooler, drier weather. Last year, the rule was broken. We have done a great deal of overseeding since last fall to repair damaged turf. We have fungicides available. We will look for the appearance of disease as the seasons progress, and we will offer you the option of treating or not.
Call or email us with your questions. Check our website, blog and Facebook page for more information about how we help you care for your turf.
With the fall season fast approaching, it seems like a great time to revisit the sprinkler
winterization process. Click here to view a diagram of a typical PVB setup. If you are comfortable with the setup, you can prepare your system for the winterization process prior to CM’s coming to your property. This is a time-saver for you and CM’s. By draining the interior, you no longer have to be home when we show up! Feel free to go shopping, go to a soccer game, or stay at work if you must. When you return home, you will have a notice in the door that we have been out to winterize your system. That is when you will complete steps 5 and 6. With that, your system is officially hibernating, something that many of us wish we could uring the long Nebraska winter!
Listed below are a few helpful Q&A’s regarding sprinkler systems in general.
Enjoy the fall!
Q. What is a check valve?
A. A check valve is a device that is installed in a sprinkler head that keeps the water from exiting the head when the zone is not running. Heads with check valves prevent the water from draining out of the sprinkler heads when the system is not in use therefore conserving water and preventing low head drainage or puddles.
Q. What is the copper tubing extending from the house to the ground?
A. This is the copper that leads from your valves to your pressure vacuum breaker (PVB.) The PVB prevents water from flowing back into your potable water supply once it has passed by the device. Some systems may be installed with a reduced pressure assembly (RP.) The RP serves the same purpose as the PVB but is used in situations where a PVB will not adequately protect the potable water supply.
Q. Is my system a self-draining system?
A. If you do not have sprinkler heads with check valves installed, the system is self-draining to the extent water will naturally flow out of the heads due to the slope of the terrain. The valves are self-draining as they have a reverse pressure drain in the valve box. The drain opens up when the water is shut off. If you do have heads with check valves installed, the system is not self draining. Either way, we strongly recommend having the system completely winterized and evaluated each year.
Q. Should I drain and blow out the system?
A. Yes! It is good idea to have CM’s drain and blow out your system at the end of every watering season. Please call our office at 738-1718 to schedule this service. Our systems include drains, but blowing out your system insures there is no water left in the system and that all your lines, valves, and PVB will be ready for spring. If you do have heads with check valves installed, the system is not self draining.
Q. Will the pipes crack or freeze?
A. Poly pipe expands significantly, so small amounts of water can be tolerated and most lines drain to the lowest head on the zone. However, the vacuum breaker or backflow preventer, copper pipe, or PVC pipe around the valve box may crack if they are not winterized. That being said, any system where the heads are installed with check valves will crack and freeze if not winterized as check valves will cause the poly lines to retain water.
With old man winter finally going away, now is a good time to give your sprinkler system a thorough spring check-up. It is important to go through each zone and make sure each head is adjusted properly. You want to take care not to spray your sidewalks or driveway as it will be wasting water. Beware, adjusting sprinklers can be a cold,wet job. So why don't you let us adjust your sprinklers and make sure they are adjusted appropriately while you stay nice and dry. Our technicians will also adjust your controller for proper watering during the spring season and check your rain sensor to make sure it is working.
If you do not have a rain sensor, call us to have one installed for a peace of mind knowing you are not one of those people whose system is running while it is raining. The rain sensor will also save you money on your water bill from those needless waterings. Another product that is currently available is Solar Sync. It will perform all the monitorings of a rain sensor plus monitor the temperature of the air. It also will automatically adjust your controller throughout the season leaving you with a true maintainence-free operation. Call us today to schedule a Solar Sync installation and if you mention this blog, we will take 15% off the total price. Note, some controllers will need to be upgraded at an additional cost to Hunter Pro-C in order for this product to work.
The Environmental Protection Agency designated March 16-20 as Fix a Leak Week. Did you know that the average home wastes 11,000 gallons of water a year? Most of these leaks are typical household fixtures such as running toilets and leaking faucets.
Your sprinkler system can play a large role in wasting water since they can sometimes not be so obvious. When the weather is consistently warm enough to run the sprinkler system, it is important to walk around the yard and check your sprinkler system for any breaks or leaks. Better yet, call us and have us come out to turn on and check your system out. We will be able to repair any breaks and leaks, as well as adjust the sprinklers to avoid spraying inorganic materials that do not require water. Lets work together to save a limited resource, both your money and our precious water.
Come stop by and see us at the Omaha Home Show between March 26th through March 29th. We will have a booth set up for you to come and get ideas for your yard as well as showcase new landscaping technology. So stop by and say Hello!
Now that the season is just about to get underway, we will be posting Blogs more frequently so don't forget to check back in!