Drought conditions have become a part of our regions reality for the past 4 years. With various cities and water districts nationwide demanding their customers reduce their water use especially outdoors. I have come up with some valuable tips and suggestions to help keep you in the "GREEN " this year and for years to come.
El Nino was supposed to bring us hoards of rain and needed water to our reservoirs but it appears to be just another "average rainfall year" here in Southern California. It is a good idea to educate yourself on what is available to the consumer and business owner to help reduce their outdoor water use and keep some of that well earned ca$h in your pockets.
1. One of the most simplest things you can do as a consumer or business owner, is to retro-fit your existing irrigation system to a more efficient and reliable one. There are irrigation sprinkler nozzles that help you better manage irrigation use, eliminate irrigation runoff, and reduce your water bills. The Toro Precision Series Spray Nozzles offer all the above and have been proven to reduce water usage by 35% . The Toro Precision Series Rotating nozzles supply matched precipitation rates at any arc and radius from 14 to 26 feet. The water is applied slowly and evenly thus helping to reduce runoff and wasted water. Both nozzles can be retro fitted into numerous other brands of popups and should be looked at at your local irrigation supply store such as Site One ( Formally John Deere Landscapes ) www.siteone.com or Ewing Irrigation Products www.ewing.com to see if they will help solve some or all of your irrigation watering woes.
2. The next best suggestion I have is to upgrade that irrigation controller to a more modern 'Smart Controller". Smart controllers such as the Toro Evolution Series controller offer standard functions such as manual watering ,setting water days and start times and also have the ability to add extra features such as the Toro wireless weather sensor which uses live temperature and solar measurements plus historical weather data to calculate the amount of water needed for irrigating various landscaping shrubs,turf, and other plant materials. Plus you can add a 'Rain Gage" to automatically shut down the irrigation system during a rain and, you can also add a Precision soil sensor to help monitor the soil moisture level in the soil so that the system only waters when the soil moisture level reaches a certain point to automatically activate the irrigation controller or keep it shut off if enough available moisture is contained within the soils profile.
3. After you have completed your irrigation system retro-fit, you are now ready to apply a remarkable moisture management product to your landscape turf,trees,shrubs, and potted plants to help minimize drought stress,control or eliminate dry spots,enhance nutrient uptake and much more. Ecologel's Moisture Manager will help keep all your landscaping plants hydrated. Proper soil moisture management is the key to healthy plant materials. Moisture Manager works by being applied to the soil and the hygroscopic and humectant properties of the product produces a thin persistent film on root surfaces and attracts available water in the form of water vapor between soil pore spaces to attract, capture, and retains that water vapor to have it available for the plants root system. This helps reduce and eliminate drought stress that can lead to disease and pest, and can also help you lower your watering expenses.
* utilizing drip irrigation when feasible and changing over various water hogging plant materials with water thrifty plants,trees, and shrubs will also lead a great pathway to water savings and a beautiful landscape.
By incorporating some or all of the suggestions above, you can realize some real water savings and reduce water waste and runoff. Check out my website for the "As Seen On TV " Moisture Manager banner and save on your purchase of Moisture Manager. Just use the special code "Unique" to receive your discount at checkout.
* For more information on the Evolution Series 'Smart Controllers' , Precision Series nozzles ( H2o chip technology nozzles and Precision rotating type nozzles, ,soil sensors, and weather sensors go to ( www.toro.com )
* Be sure to check with your local water districts and water providers as they may have rebate programs available for you from your purchase of "Smart Controllers", water efficient nozzles, soil sensors, and weather sensors.
"Rain rain go away, come back another day" ?
Well we are not singing that tune down here in Southern California. With record drought and heavy duty watering restrictions in place in many cities around the country, it is important to learn all we can on how to properly and responsibly harvest any and all available "Free rain water". We have been installing simple rain water collection barrels for the past year and have been successful in helping consumers reduce there waste water drainage to the sewer systems and increase available water for customers veggie gardens and potted plants around their homes plus utilize a free resource that can help consumers save money on water cost.
Rain water harvesting is not some new fad that was just coined up the past couple years because of the drought situation all over the U.S. and for that matter over the world. I remember we had a couple rain barrels at our family home back in Ohio that supplied "Soft Water" for cleaning clothes in our washing machine, supply water for watering flowers and garden plants around the house and in the winter, providing ice every now and then for use when my folks made home made ice cream. ( Yummy stuff I may add ).
The fine art of catching rain water goes back to early times when it was out of dire necessity folks saved every drop of water that fell so that they could properly water their crops,wash not only their clothes but also their bodies.
Today their are various ways to collect rain water and I will just share a couple with you in this blog and if you have further questions on what other water saving methods are available out there, please respond back to my comments section on the blog site.
* The easiest and lest expensive method of catching available rain water is a basic rain barrel. The barrel that I recommend to consumers is an smart, attractive system providing economical use of available rainwater for gardening and ecostorage. It comes in two natural color options ( Granite & Green )and it is designed to blend in to your landscape decor. You can store from 55-gallons to 110 gallons without shocking your eyes or budget. The storage and installation are effortless and multiple barrels can be plumbed together to create an integral rainwater harvesting system with unlimited capacity.
There is a integral all-in-one hydroactivated diverter ,first flush, and filter kit that is also available and highly recommended.
* The second system is a little more dynamic and is suited for large capacity water storage. It is known as a "Storage Bladder" These containers are easily hidden under a deck, in a crawl space, or behind greenery and can offer 500,1000, or 2,000 gallon storage capacities. They are built to last with durable, engineered construction and convenient camlock fittings for easy installation. There are also bladder kits that contains everything you need to get started collecting rainwater. Offered in three different sizes, the kits comes complete with your choice of bladder,a pump, and diverter.
* There are a number of local city water agencies that offer rebates on rain barrel installations and it would behoove you to investigate your water provider to see if they offer any rebates.
Start saving that "Free rainwater" today and start saving money on water cost and reducing water waste to the sewer systems in our towns and cities.
Fall is traditionally the best time to consider installing drought tolerant and native landscaping plants,shrubs, trees, and ground cover. Below I have listed five great tips that have proven to be very valuable in my landscape project installations over the past years.
1. Dig your planting hole at right angles and at least 1-1/2 times the size of the container your plant material is housed in.
By digging at right angles, you are encourage the root system of your plant to grow in a more natural downward and outward process rather than possibly growing in a " soup bowl " root bound process.
Also the roots have an opportunity to stretch out and anchor in better with the extra planting hole width.
* Note: Be sure to plant your material at least 1-1/2 " higher in the planting hole so to help avoid stem root rot from having the plant planted to low in the ground.
2. Hydrate the planting hole first.
By hydrating the planting hole first, you help reduce the possibility of the plants root ball from drying out.
Placing a fresh plant into a "Dry" hole is a sure way to have the moisture from the plant wick out to the surrounding hole dry soil area. By hydrating the hole first, you are able to reduce the wicking effect as the surrounding soil within the hole has reached a saturation point and will not pull available water from the plants root ball.
* Tip: I use a product called "Moisture Manager" in the water we pour into the planting holes. The product is a food grade compound/humectant that pulls available water vapor from the soil pore space and makes it available for the plant roots for up to 3 months.
Send me a email to get you more information on this amazing product and to place a order for a quart bottle to try out.
3. Avoid using a lot of the soil amendments and soil fertilizers when back filling your planting holes.
I have found over the past couple years from following the specifications from one of my ace native plant landscape designers ( Mr. Rob Moore of California Native Landscape Designs www.californianativelandscapedesigns.com ) that it is not really necessary to use a lot of supplemental soil amendments and fertilizers when installing native plant materials.
In my experience the nurseries where I purchase my plant materials have taken every effort to supply the best living environment for my chosen plants and usually the plant materials have ample soil amendments and fertilizers already within the planting container already and only in very extreme crappy soil conditions such as new construction sites or planting areas that have been covered with concrete sidewalks, patios, driveways, etc... you would really want to consider amending the soil before planting your new plants.
* Tip: I do use a mycroryze product that helps increase rooting and help reduce the transplant shock levels when I install the new plant materials. Contact me for more information on what we use and recommend.
4. Monitor your watering habits.
You can over water or under water plant materials so be careful not to " OVER WATER" your newly installed plants.
It is much easier to hydrate a limp plant rather than attempt to "Dry Out" a overly water one.
By observing the plants leaves,stems, and understanding your chosen plants growing characteristics, you can help reduce the death cycle on your new landscape.
* Tip: Soil moisture meters help you to get basic readings on your soil moisture content and can be used as a help in monitoring your soil moisture levels. You can find inexpensive ones at your local home store garden section or online.
5. Enjoy the "New Growth Process"
This process is leaving the newly planted addition to your landscape alone and giving it time to establish it's root system and become accustomed to its new living environment. This process normally takes approx. 60-90 days based on weather temperatures, watering frequency, and the attitude of each plant.
Yes, plants do have an attitude so leave them alone and let them show you what type they have.
A positive attitude equals a new home for your plants and a negative attitude equals a replacement in my book.
Good luck and let me know how things are going and if this blog was helpful.
I have noticed in my landscape design/build business lately, a lot of request for decomposed granite use by homeowners.
Taking out old cracked patio's, sidewalks, dead or otherwise useless lawn areas around clients properties, has stimulated the interest of many clients who are looking for solutions to their challenges. Decomposed granite is a very good product to use under many landscaping situations not only as a semi-solid to hard pan walking surface, but also as a clean fresh ground cover alternative to various chipped tree mulches and synthetic rubber mulches that have hit the sustainable landscaping scene. There are a few things one show be aware of though when choosing to use decomposed granite in their own particular application.
* Decomposed granite ( AKA "DG" ) is granite rock that has weathered to the point that it readily fractures into smaller pieces or chunks of weak rock. Granite is composed of various other minerals such as feldspar,quartz, and mica just to name a few. The chemical transformation of feldspar into a clay material call Kaolin is one of the important weathering processes. The presence of the clay allows water to seep in and further weaken the parent rock allowing it to fracture or crumble into smaller pieces. Decomposed granite can come as a crushed stone or a fine and used as a pavement material.
Many times, I have hadto educate my clients about DG to the facts that unless stabilized with some sort of polymeric stabilizer such as TechniSoil G3, PolyPavement, and other brands available, the fantastic idea of replacing that ugly dying back yard with a decomposed granite patio replacement may just end up becoming one big DG bog at the first rain. Proper prep of the job site, use of landscaping fabric, landscaping edging, proper grading and DG compaction are all very important proceedures that should be addressed when choosing a contractor or deciding to do the job DG installation yourself.
There are various colors of DG available now and grades to choose from crushed to a grade know as "fines". Having choice is a good thing but, understanding DG's limitations based on what the end use is expected to be is "MOST IMPORTANT" when choosing to go with decomposed granite use at your home or business.
* Information on decomposed granite derived from Wikipedia.
** Excellent DG suppliers in Southern Ca: Cal Blend Soils www.calblendsoils.com (877) 675-3405
Southwest Boulder & Stone www.southwestboulder.com (877)-SWB-ROCK
The choice to install synthetic turf in various landscaping projects is growing and the interest in choosing what type of synthetic turf is a very important decision. The types of synthetic turf varies by fiber weight,pile height,color,blend of synthetic fibers, and most important "PRICE".
Synthetic Grass has many advantages such as added value to your home,return on investment,affordable one time cost,rebates available in some cities,year round beauty,pet friendly,safe for children and on joints,perfect for shady/damp or dry/desolate conditions where grass cannot grow,free of chemicals & pesticides,free of maintenance,saves on water usage,saves on landscaping fees,saves on irrigation cost,free of yellow and brown spots, and saves on time for yourself.
There are turfs available that are suggested for commercial,pet,play facilities,and landscaping applications. There are also turf blends for city streetscapes,dog parks,sport fields, golf greens, and around pools.
The contractor should investigate the clients desires and needs to help them choose the right synthetic turf for each application. Just buying synthetic turf because of "PRICE" is not always a wise choice. Yes, you may save some dollars right away on the cost of some inexpensive turf but, 9 times out of 10 the client "PAYS" later from choosing a cheap turf that fades,leaches chemicals into the environment, and just creates enough problems where the client chooses to replace the defective product.
Whenever possible, choose synthetic turf that offers plush,anti-bacterial technology based polyethylene fibers.
There are also yarn fibers that reduce the heat emittance up to 30 degrees. This is important in our Southwest environment where it can get pretty toasty out there.
The warranty on synthetic turf is also a must when considering using synthetic turf. The more through coverage on the turf, the better for you the consumer.
There are synthetic turfs on the market that are LEED green building rated,latex backed products that are 100% recyclable and lead free. Seek out the products that carry the best and pay for quality always.
* For more information on synthetic turf please check out the PolyTurf website at www.polyturf.com & other sustainable products at www.sustainablesurfacing.com.
Cross - linked Polyacrylamide crystals have been around for a long time.
They were first discovered and developed in the 1950's. The crystals can absorb up to 400 times their it's weight in deionized pure water. Cross-linked polyacrylamide is a rock-salt sized granular material which soaks up free water in the soil and swelling up to 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter with the ability of storing the water for the plants use. The roots of the plants grow through the gel-like hydrated crystals and absorb water as the plants need it.
Polyacrylamide crystals can be applied in various ways such as injection, gel-seeding, roto-tilling the crystals into the soil, manual seed spreader ,slurrys, and other creative application styles.
I have used polymers many times when doing new lawn and shrub installations and have had fantastic results from their use. The use of polymers by bedding plant growers has shown that ploymer use can help reduce the labor cost of watering bedding plants . The use of polymers as a nutrient rich jello for many various types of plants and shrubs not to forget lawn turf is a great way to help conserve water on lawn installations. There are companies out there today that can provide you with some of the best polymers in the U.S. One such company JRM Chemical out of Cleveland Ohio ( www.soilmoist.com ) provide a 99.7% Crossedlinked polyacrylamide that is a great performer in the landscape and garden. Polymers also have the ability to help reduce fertilizer and insecticide. and fungicide useage. The crystals when buried at a depth of 2-6" in the ground along side of the shrub or tree root ball or, sprinkled in the planting hole of bedding plants, add great survival rates for all newly installed plant, tree, shrub, and grasses.
Go out today and pickup a package of Cross-linked polymers crystals and experiment with some of your potted plant materials or, take the plunge and start incorporating the polymers with your installations of larger shrubs, ground covers, and turf areas. You will be on your way to saving money and doing your part to help conserve water.
* Some of this information was derived from the Summer 1990 edition of the Colorado Green magazine article " A Polymer for the drought years" by Daniel J. Wofford Jr. and Anthony J. Koski, Ph.D
When looking for ways to save water and keep from wasting water in a residential or commercial landscape, there are many new irrigation products out in the market that can assist you in your quest. I have listed a few of the best that can help you reduce your landscape water use and in some cases, pay you for doing so depending on your site location/city/state.
1. Weather based irrigation controllers: These are irrigation controllers that have the ability to water the landscape by utilizing the real time weather temps and also historical data of the area to help the owner manage and control the amount of water being applied to various types of landscaping plants,and lawn areas. The controllers come with "On-site" station capability and also the controllers can be managed from a "Hub" or monitoring station for a monthly fee.
2. Drip irrigation: Drip emitters, In-Line drip distribution line, and Sub-Surface drip lines all supply constant and steady regulated flow of water to the root system of plants and lawns. The use of drip irrigation is a wise choice as the water is less likely to evaporate as quickly as when being applied through conventional overhead watering thus, reducing water waste. Also the possibilities of over spray and broken sprinklers that lead to water waste is greatly reduced by using some form of drip irrigation.
3. In-Stem Flow regulated sprinkler and shrub heads: These water saving devices are available and in some cities are rebate qualified through various rebate programs that are being induced to entice owners and water managers to conserve landscape water. These devices have been tested and proven to save water managers an average of 30% in water use at their managed sites. We use these devices every opportunity we get when installing new irrigation systems or retro-fitting existing irrigation systems.
4. Rotating and Percision Type Spray Nozzles: These cutting edge spray nozzles reduce the amount of water being wasted by applying the water in the form of heavier water droplets and in a more uniform manner than conventional nozzles. Many of these new series nozzles are also rebate possible in various cities in the U.S.
By investigating the above possibilities for your own irrigation situation, I am sure you will find a way to help reduce your water use in the landscape and keep and possibly put some extra dollars in your pocket for doing so.
* Useful web sites to locate some of the above mentioned products:
www.hunterirrigation.com - www.toroirrigation.com - www.rainbirdirrigation.com - www.valvettesystems.com
"The majority of food grown for the US market is not produced in a green or sustainable way."
*NSA LLC Juice Plus
We get our fruit and veggies from long distance's away. South America, Central America,Mexico,New Zealand and other countries contribute to our demand for fresh fruit and veggies. Some of these fruits and veggies may have been sprayed with pesticides, or hormones to reduce pest populations and increase production size and harvest time. possible contaminated water to produce these crops also come into question. Our standards for health and safety concerns here in the USA is fairly high and it is our hope that the food we feed our families and ourselves is safe, wholesome and energizing for our bodies. But, all to often we read and hear about tragic stories of food poisoning,pest and herbicide contamination and other issues that leave consumers to start looking and shopping "Local" for their produce and fruits. Now there are systems available that can help consumers protect themselves from possible contaminants and help us consume better quality and fresher produce and fruits in a very short time. With the novel concept of aeroponics and hydroponics, we can produce wholesome fresh food utilizing as little as 5% of the nutrients and water used in conventional gardening. Water savings are realized also. Sustainable growing practice's are utilized,and space age technology is put into action to help todays consumer take better control over the food they and their families consume. Verticle food production is the latest and hottest hobby to come down the pike in the past couple years and it makes a lot of sense to investigate and determine if verticle gardening systems available on the market today can benefit you and your family. Check out my new web site: https://urbanfarmer.towergarden.com to learn more about verticle gardening.
The hot new catch word that has taken the environmental arena by storm. There are many new products out in the market today that has proven themselves worthy of being deemed a "sustainable product"
One such product that has been around a while but has recently taken a front row seat in designers and landscape contractors designs is......
"Recycled Rubber Mulch"
Environmentally friendly, recycled tire rubber mulch for playgrounds and landscaping applications have proven to be a great choice for lasting beauty and durability. One brand of rubber mulch "Polystar" Rubbermulch is a certified resilient safety system it provides a safe and attractive environment for children's playgrounds and a realistic and eco-friendly alternative to wood landscaping mulch. The soft, spongy, cushioned surface is fabricated from non-toxic recycled tire buffings with sherd or nugget option. The material is pigmented in a variety of bright or natural colors and guaranteed with a 5-year color warranty.
Five times heavier than wood chip, Rubbermulch is less likely to blow away in the wind or float away in heavy rain, and also does not produce fungus or mold.
Features include the following: LEED Rated, Non-Toxic, 5-year Color Warranty, 100% Recycled Content, ADA Compliant/MeetsASTM 1292.
With all this going for it, anyone who is considering using a mulch or ground cover such as wood bark for landscaping or playground applications should seriously consider Non-Toxic Rubbermulch for their next project.
* Note: Information derived from product information sheet provided by USSA ( United Sports Surfacing of America ) www.sustainablesurfacing.com.
Fertilizing turf,shrubs, and trees has become a lot safer and cost effective from the introduction and use of automatic fertilizer and supplement dispensing systems. One of the top dispensing systems on the market " EZFLO SYSTEMS" is making life a life a lot easier for managers of sports fields,commercial & municipal property managers, and residential landscape owners. By using a patented fluid flow technologies, EZ-FLO'S systems can precisely deliver non-hazzardous water soluble or liquid formulations through hose, in-ground sprinkler or drip systems using micro-dosing, a technique that provides plants the needed nutrients or supplements, each time you water. The combination of fertilizing while irrigating (Called fertigation) provides plants with essential nutrients through both the plants leaves, as well as roots. Fertilizer run-off is virtually eliminated, water usage can be reduced and, the combination of reduced water usage and less fertilizer runoff while using non-hazardous products can help our environment. For a free evaluation of how a "In-Line" fertigation system can help make your life a lot easier and also help you to reduce your cost on water and fertilizer applications, please go to the contact link on my web site or better yet, call me direct at (562) 755-9914.
* SPECIAL 15% DISCOUNT ON ALL EZ-FLO PRODUCTS IF YOU MENTION THIS BLOG*