Environmental practices that return your investment…
Janet K. from San Clemente, California writes
“…we have bushes and a trailing groundcover on a hill in front of our house. Every time the sprinklers come on water runs down the gutter at the bottom of the hill. Is there something we can do to keep that from happening? Our neighbors said we should rip out the sprinklers and put in drip irrigation, do we have to do that?”
Irrigation Essential's Response:
The core issue is the water is being applied to quickly for the soil to accept it. Your can imagine a gentle, mist like rain soaking in on the hillside, but a storm with large drops of water running off. The type of sprinklers that put water on at the slowest rate is called stream rotors or simply rotors. These emit either a delicate “fingers” of water spray, or a single stream that slowly travels across an arc that you set. If you have a fixed spray type sprinkler, I highly recommend you change those out to the stream rotors. There is a brand called MP Rotators, sold by Hunter that we can recommend. Email us back with the specific name of the sprinkler you have, it may be there is a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade the sprinklers you already have!
Cycle and Soak
Next is a simple scheduling adjustment at your controller. If for example the run time of the sprinklers is 30 minutes, divide that into three applications of 10 minutes each, with an hour in between each application. In other words, a “cycle and soak”.
This is important!
Plant water need changes throughout the year! Adjust your controller once a month. Add start times and “days on” until mid summer, and then start subtracting them (once a month) after peak summer. By doing this you will save money on water, and your landscape should look better!
Periodically INSPECT the system to make sure nothing is dysfunctional or broken.
Soil Biology and Horticultural Practices help manage water use!
You can use less water, and have a healthier landscape by building your soil. Please see our article “Living Soil” for more detail on soil building. Also, key horticulture basics:
Where to Purchase Irrigation Hardware
When it comes time to purchase irrigation hardware, go to an irrigation supply store not a big box hardware store. They stock a greater range of quality products. In your area we recommend Ewing Irrigation at 1270 Puerta Del Sol, San Clemente. Their phone is 949.366.1085.
Many times, seemingly simple questions have answers that span several disciplines (design theory, installation practices, horticulture and soil science issues), and can become burdensome for someone to try to take in all at once.
To facilitate understanding, we group our information in three broad categories:
System Management — Irrigation scheduling. Hitting the “moving target” of plant water need as it changes throughout the growing season.
Delivery System — Spray heads, rotors, emitters, etc. We try to explain the principles behind how they function, and make sense out of the many look-alike products on the market.
Soil Biology — Living soils and horticultural practices play a very significant role in how effective irrigation can be, and the viability of the landscape. Think of growing roots, not plants! Healthy roots will ensure a beautiful garden!
Most irrigation schedules waste water. Learn how to get the most out of efficient irrigation scheduling!
Subsurface Capillary Textile Irrigation: A new class of hardware offering the highest distribution uniformities available today.
Intelligent Irrigation combined with a diverse and robust soil biology encourage root growth. The result is healthier plants that are more drought tolerant and less vulnerable to disease.