Commonwealth Irrigation & Landscape can provide you with the most recent technology available to ensure that your irrigation system is as efficient as possible. Even if your system is less than two years old, we can make small changes to your system that will save you money and our water resources. On average, we have seen a 35% reduction in water usage based on making these changes.
Did you ever think that you could be saving water by using an irrigation system? Probably not, but if your irrigation system is correctly designed, installed and maintained, it will help minimize the amount of water you use and still keep your lawn and landscape looking healthy. Here are some practical tips to help you have a lush, green landscape…
The greatest waste of water comes from applying too much, too often — much of the water is never absorbed. Instead of watering for one long session, water a few times for shorter periods and take 15-minute breaks in between each session. This will allow water to soak in, while minimizing runoff.
Water between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. — when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Mid-day watering tends to be less efficient because of water loss due to evaporation and windy conditions during the day. Watering in the evening isn’t a good idea either because grass can remain wet overnight — an open invitation for fungus to grow. By watering in the morning, grass have a chance to dry out during the day.
Different plants need different amounts of water. Divide your yard and landscape areas into separate irrigation zones so that grass can be watered separately and more frequently than groundcovers, shrubs and trees. Both sprinkler and drip irrigation can be incorporated to achieve more efficient use of water.
If you have an underground sprinkler system, make sure the sprinkler heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways. A properly adjusted sprinkler head should spray large droplets of water instead of a fine mist to minimize evaporation and wind drift.
When it comes to watering individual trees, flowerbeds, potted containers, or other non-grassy areas, consider applying water directly to the roots using low volume drip irrigation. This will reduce water waste through evaporation or runoff, and will prevent unwanted weeds from growing.
Since lawns and gardens should be watered in the early morning hours, a problem may not be discovered until it is too late. Periodically check your sprinklers to make sure everything is working properly. A clogged head or a broken line can wreak havoc on your landscape and water bill. Commonwealth Irrigation & Landscape offers a Service Program that can make sure these inspections occur timely.
Adjust your irrigation system as the seasons and weather change. Or better yet, install a shut-off device that automatically detects rain or moisture. These devices are inexpensive and enable you to take advantage of the water without having to pay for it.
How much and how long to apply water depends on the type of soil that is being watered. Hard, compacted soil takes considerably longer to absorb water than loose granular soil. In order to maximize water use and prevent runoff, use the cycle and soak method of irrigation.
For example instead of watering all at once, set your sprinklers to water grass:
Watering in increments gives compacted soil adequate time to soak up water. Once the water from the first round of watering is absorbed, then water again about 30 minutes later. The already moist soil will enable additional water to travel even deeper to the roots and in turn, create a healthier lawn.
Applying too much water in one increment results in the ground reaching a saturation point meaning any additional water will run-off and be wasted. Different types of grass and soil will require differing amounts of water. In order to determine how deeply the water is penetrating into the soil in your yard, all that’s needed is a shovel. Simply pick an area of the lawn that is irrigated and about 30 minutes after watering, dig a small hole, and use your hand to determine how deeply the water has penetrated.
In most lawn and garden situations, it’s best if water is penetrating 4 to 6 inches beneath the surface of the soil. If the soil is still dry at this depth, then another cycle may be needed to encourage deep root growth.
After mowing, use the “Manual” or “Test” setting on your sprinkler timer to turn on each sprinkler station for a couple minutes at a time. Then walk around and visually check for these potential problems:
Misaligned heads: Adjust any sprinkler heads that may have shifted and are watering the street, patio, sidewalk or driveway.
Obstructed heads: Taller grass around sprinkler heads may block your intended spray pattern and prevent water from reaching your lawn or other plants. Make sure you have at least 4-inch pop-up sprinklers to fully clear taller grass. You may also need to trim back overgrown plant material that may be blocking the spray.
Broken parts: Look for parts that may have been broken by lawnmowers or foot traffic. Replace any broken parts, being sure to match the spray pattern and distance for peak performance.
Clogged nozzles: Dirt, small rocks or other debris can occasionally clog sprinkler heads. If you notice any heads that appear clogged, simply turn off the zone, unscrew the nozzle, then rinse the nozzle and filter screen in some clean water. Once cleared, replace the nozzle and filter screen, checking to make sure the spray is aligned properly.
Proper coverage: For even, efficient watering, each sprinkler’s spray should just reach close to the next sprinkler head. Under-spray may result in dry spots that can eventually turn brown, while over-spray wastes water.
Periodically checking your sprinklers to make sure everything is working properly will help keep your landscape looking great all season long.
A great way to conserve water and help plants stay healthy is to spread mulch in shrub beds, tree rings and flower gardens. Mulch, also known as “top dressing,” is a protective covering that is placed around the base of plants, preventing evaporation, frozen roots and weed growth.
Mulch can be organic or inorganic, fine or coarse and, in some landscapes, it may even be rocks. Mulch is readily available and Commonwealth Irrigation & Landscape can help with getting it spread.
Applying mulch helps drainage, encourages root development, improves soil by making nutrients more available to plants and insulates soil and plants in winter months, while cooling the soil and reducing water use during hot summer months.
In the early spring, hand spread a layer of 1 to 3 inches of mulch around the base of each plant, being careful not to get mulch against tree trunk bases and at shrub and plant stems. Use just enough to block the sunlight and keep weeds from growing.
Do not to allow the mulch to make direct contact with the plants. Make sure to keep a ring about 2 to 3 inches in diameter clear around the base of each plant. Doing so will help plants avoid disease problems.
When finished, water down the mulch to give it moisture and help it settle into place. Rake the mulch when it fades in color. This will expose new organic surfaces that have not faded in the sunlight. Replenish mulch when only a thin layer is left. The beauty of mulch is that as it decomposes, it actually enriches your soil, much like compost. By adding mulch, you improve your soil while at the same time reducing the need to water and pull weeds.
When done right, mulching will greatly reduce the amount of trimming or weeding that is needed throughout the growing season, as well as providing very attractive ground covering for your yard.