According the Irrigation Association (IA), “Smart Irrigation Month is an IA initiative to increase awareness of the value of water use...and grow demand for water-saving products, practices and services.” In the “Water Wisely” article below, the IA shares some simple tips to improve water efficiency for your turf.
Today’s irrigation systems include sophisticated controllers that allow you to easily adjust watering schedules to fit different needs.
Get in the zone. Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and soil in that section. Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.
Consider soil type. Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.
Don’t send water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings.
Water only when needed. Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.
Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool - typically early morning.
Water more often for shorter periods. For example, if you have 4 zones and you typically water for 15 minutes each zone with a start time at 5 AM, you might change your system start times to 4:00 AM, 5:00 AM and 6:00 AM and have each zone only run 5 minutes. In both scenarios, the system runs for a total of 60 minutes that day, however, using shorter intervals lets soil absorb more water.
Adapt watering to the season. Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. Or invest in a smart controller so your system can make these changes automatically.
Contact CM's A Cut Above today for an evaluation of your sprinkler system!
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 Do you have an irrigation system that is out of date or waters in the middle of a down pour?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
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.