Even though in Rancho Santa Fe we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy some much-needed rain, we are still in a serious drought. This means water conservation is still a high priority, and water restrictions continue to be in full force. Not only do plants need less water now that we are experiencing cooler temperatures, there are also items you can implement now that will conserve water and ensure that your landscape is being watered at maximum efficiency.
Perform an irrigation audit. Check each sprinkler head for proper coverage, alignment and spacing, and adjust to eliminate overspray.
Check for leaks. Turn off all water and look to see if the water meter is still running. Even the slightest movement in your water meter will indicate a leak. The most common leaks are irrigation valves that don’t completely shut off, dripping faucets, and toilets that run.
Convert to drip irrigation. Using a drip system in your planting beds is a quick and easy way to conserve water. Drip systems are commonly 50%-75% more efficient than a conventional spray system.
Convert to low precipitation rotor heads. These low-flow heads will reduce runoff which saves water.
Add a pressure regulator. If your water pressure is higher than your sprinkler system is designed for, you will benefit from a pressure regulator. Without one, you may be wasting gallons of water to “fogging” each time you irrigate. Fogging occurs when high pressure causes much of the water to be too light to fall on the lawn or planter bed and evaporate as mist, or to be carried off in even a light wind. Additionally, if your water pressure is too high, it may be causing excess wear and tear on your pipe, valves and sprinkler heads.
Mulch planting beds. Adding mulch to your planting beds will reduce loss of soil moisture due to evaporation. A 2-3” layer of mulch will keep your soil cooler and also hinder weed seed from germinating.
Adjust your irrigation schedule. To do this, turn off your irrigation system altogether, and only turn it on again once you start to see wilt in your thirstiest plants. The thirstiest plants become your “indicator” plants. Repeat this process and then reset your irrigation schedule to match only what your plants need. You may find that three, or even two times a week is too often for most well-established plants.
Reduce lawn size. To give you an idea of how much water your lawn uses, for each 1,000 square feet of Fescue lawn, 35,000 gallons of water per year will be needed for it to thrive in the Rancho Santa Fe area.
Install a Smart irrigation controller. This technology uses weather information and site conditions to determine when to irrigate and how much water to use. Some smart controllers allow for remote programming from your Smart phone, iPad, or desktop computer.
Install a rain sensor. Even though San Diego typically receives less than 10” of rain per year, using a rain sensor is an inexpensive way to ensure that your irrigation system is turned off during rainfall.
Don’t wait until the blazing heat of summer to think about the efficiency of your irrigation system. As a state and a community we need to be conserving water now. In fact, you can contact http://www.watersmartsd.org/ for rebate opportunities.
If you want to discuss water conservation further or are interested in an irrigation audit, upgrade or conversion, please don’t hesitate to contact us at www.NatureDesigns.net or call us at (760) 945-4321.