California has been suffering from a drought for some time. Unfortunately, conditions keep getting worse and the governor recently added many counties to his drought declaration state of emergency. With this expanded declaration, the California Water Service – the largest water utility west of the Mississippi – is urging customers to conserve water as much as possible. They are being asked to utilize industry-leading conservation programs and do what they can to help conserve water. Although a drought can be bad for a landscape, it doesn’t have to be. There are many things you can do to help survive the drought. Below are some ideas to consider. Follow these and you will have a better chance to come out on top.
Have a Good Irrigation System
Within the last 30 years, water conservation efforts have promoted many new and innovative irrigation products. For example, rotary nozzles are a more efficient pop-up sprayer type, and an upgrade from conventional fan sprayer nozzles. More recently, sprinklers have been upgraded to house an in-stem pressure regulator as well. Both of these newer components alone can achieve over 50% water efficiency. On the other hand, drip irrigation, a totally different water delivery method, can save up to 70% water use.
Having a good irrigation system is the best way to save water. Sprinklers or dripper systems require proper selection, correct pressure, adequate spacing, and regular maintenance. If you currently have fan sprayers, rotary style nozzles are a better way to go. Sprayer nozzles are more wasteful. Be sure to space sprinklers and emitters properly to ensure even coverage. Pay attention to water pressure too. Having the proper water pressure in a system will avoid uneven coverage, dry spots, and wasted water. A pressure-regulated stem is a good option. Lastly, make sure you constantly inspect your system and look for broken pipes or nozzles, leaks, puddles, and dry spots.
Using drip irrigation is a great solution, especially in planter areas. When it comes to drip irrigation, line emitters can be used for dense foliage, areas with many shrubs, and as a point source for pots and planters. To maintain proper pressure in your drip system, always have a filter/pressure reducer at the valve to ensure even distribution. Remember, drip systems use less water and help with run-off so it helps save water throughout your landscape.
Know Your Landscape
Basic knowledge of your soil and plants can go a long way. Different soils have different infiltration rates. If your soil is sandy, it may help to amend the soil or add a product to help retain moisture. Plant selection in your landscape is also very important. Consider replacing any water-hungry plants with drought tolerant plants or grasses. If your plants require less water, you can cut back on your water run times and schedules to help save even more water.
Update Your Irrigation Controller Settings
Lastly, don’t forget to manage your irrigation controller. This will help you maintain a proper irrigation schedule, complete with run times and start times. When it comes to controllers, think about adding a water sensor or a moisture sensor to prevent overwatering. With WiFi ready or linked controllers, you can program your schedules through a weather-based system, often controlled by an app on your phone. Learn more about this from our blog post on smart timers. This will help you to water your landscape only when it needs it.
Don’t forget to stay on top of statewide mandates and industry leading products to ensure you have the latest in water-saving materials. If you need any help with your system, or would like help finding other ways to save water in your landscape, reach out to us.