Water Conservation / Irrigation Systems

Water, water…everywhere?
Everywhere we turn these days we are confronted with the stark reality that our water resources are not as infinite as we had once thought and we need to look at ways we can conserve water. One of the most important things you can do is take an assessment of your landscape and your irrigation system. The varied elements of your yard and garden may have differing water needs, depending on the exposure to sun, shade and wind, the type of soil, the climate, season, and the particular plants, trees and grass you have.
For shrubs and ornamentals, drip irrigation is the most efficient method in delivering just the right amount of water to each plant by the use of emitters attached to plastic tubing. You can vary the number of emitters for each plant, enabling you to tailor the amount of water for each plant according to its needs. Once you become familiar with your plants you can use your powers of observation to determine when to water: When the plant looks droopy, give it some water. Many plants are over-watered and can get by on much less than we think. The top layer of soil should be allowed to dry out before further watering.
You may have a lawn. In terms of irrigation methods, an overhead sprinkler system makes the most sense for a lawn because of the size of the area needing coverage. Since runoff accounts for enormous water waste, make sure the sprinklers are aimed correctly at the lawn and not at the street or the concrete driveway. Water early in the morning to prevent quick evaporation. Don’t overwater, there should be no puddles or soggy spots, and the lawn should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings.
In terms of your automatic irrigation system, it’s a good idea to learn how to program your sprinklers so you can adjust your watering schedule to the season. In some areas you can get by with almost no sprinkler irrigation in the winter months. Now there are relatively inexpensive weather based devices that can help take the guesswork out of programming your sprinklers. Weather based controllers schedule irrigation based on information entered into a computer and rain sensors interface with the controllers to shut down the irrigation when water isn’t necessary. “The advances in technology during the past five years, and new products available like the MP Rotator and the Smart Irrigation Controllers, can significantly reduce your water usage which will reduce your overall cost of maintaining a desirable landscape” says John Thomas of Ewing Irrigation Products.
Consider having a water audit done by a landscape contractor, irrigation professional, or your local water district to make sure you are watering in the most efficient way. The City of San Luis Obispo has information on its web site at http://www.slocity.org/utilities/conservation.asp
Top Five Ways to Conserve Water: 1.Learn the water needs of your various plants. 2.Make sure the emitters on your drip irrigation system are delivering the right amount of water to each plant. 3. Make sure your sprinklers aren’t causing runoff. 4. Program your irrigation system to adjust for seasonal changes. 5.Consult your city government for useful water conservation information.