Irrigation: Ins and Outs

Water will be always be an issue in California and landscape irrigation is one use that can be greatly reduced. Will it be greatly reduced? This is something I often wonder about when I see broad expanses of lawns out in blistering hot Danville and Livermore.
My guess is that the cost of water will have to rise even more in order to provide enough incentive for people to change their habits. Homeowners and business owners will have to be responsible for initiating the changes since the cost structure of the landscape contracting and maintenance industry does not promote well-trained workers. Most workers will set irrigation clocks to a lawn program and a shrub program-doesn’t matter whether it’s rotors, spray bubblers or drip, flat or sloped, sun or shade, xeriscape or bog plants.
So-how to save water in the landscape.
First the easy stuff-
  • Fix your broken sprinklers and adjust the system, or have it done.
  • Turn them off in the winter.
  • Mulch your planting beds.
A little harder-
  • Get rid of the lawn or have smaller one, especially if it’s purely ornamental (you don’t have kids who play on it or have garden parties on it)
  • Learn how to program your sprinkler clock and figure out how much water you really need-or hire someone who can figure it out.
If  you are renovating or for new construction-
  • Get a planting design that utilises mostly drought-tolerant plants and separates plants with different watering requirements.
  • Your irrigation design should have separate valves for sun and shade, for slopes, for high water and low water plants, and for different watering methods (spray, rotors, drip, bubblers). You’ll have a lot more valves than how it used to be done, but you’ll have a lot more control, too. Sprays and rotors should have matched precipitation rates. The plan should include the precipitation rate of each valve so the controller can be intelligently programmed.

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About the Author
David Widelock Landscape Design David Widelock, ASLA CA Landscape Architect #3577 4685 Commonwealth Drive Oakland, CA 94605 ph. 510-638-8660 fax 510-740-0970
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