Rain water in Southern California is a very precious resource. We usually only receive it during our winter months ( November through about Februry or March ) and in the past couple years, we have not really received that much rain at all.
Retaining rain water on-site is not only a wise move but it is also a great sustainable move too. By retaining rain water on-site by methods such as dry stream beds, rain barrels, and rain water gardens, we can keep that precious water on site and provide water for our landscapes plus reduce storm water run off and possible pesticide and herbicide pollution.
Rain gardens also provide useful needed environments for beneficial insects and bird habitats. By doing our part creating these gardens, this helps keep our ecosystem running smoothly.
You can create your own water garden by designing your current rain water down spout gutters to drain off the house into man-made bio-swale areas leading away from your home or business. The job is a lot easier to design when your down spouts lead down into an adjacent flower bed or grass area as it will be easier to design a natural, right sized, efficient water retention space . Go to your local nurseries, licensed landscape professionals and water supplier entities ( Who you pay your water bill to ) that provide needed supplies and information on where and how you can get help building your rain garden.
Also go to the Metropolitan Water Districts (MWD ) website: www.bewaterwise.com for more information on building water gardens and to learn more water thrifty and sustainable landscaping ideas at their informative website.
Winter in Southern California typically brings us rain and that valuable resource is at a lot of times wasted by allowing that water to run off our roofs, down the rain gutter, out to the sewer system or most times draining out into the street where it collects excessive oils,fluids,and other toxic crap that ends up in the street gutter and then eventually that water ends up in our ocean.
By incorporating rain water catchment systems like rain barrels, and water bladders, you can save some of that water for future use.
Rain barrels: They come in various sizes with 55 gallon and 110 gallon barrels most often used. The rain barrel is normally made of a heavy duty plastic,and is available in various colors like Grey/granite, red, and green. They have a port on top where the water drains into the barrel, and a bottom spout to add a water hose to dispense the water. The water is normally diverted into the barrel with the help of a rain water diverted device. This device mounts in between the rain barrel and drain pipe and works by either diverting water into the barrel or diverting that water to flow as normal through the drain pipe.
The next storage catchment system is a storge bladder which is widely used back in the eastern and southern states to store free rain water. The bladder consist of a heavy duty flexible rubber bladder that comes in 500,1000, or 2000 gallon storage capacities. The bladder is plumbed to catch rain water from the rain gutters and store that water until needed to water the garden or other landscape plant materials. The bladder can be retro-fitted with a small pump to dispense the water for use also, Another bonus of using the bladder is being able to hide it under a porch,deck.or a number of other available unused space areas.
Another more natural rain water reuse system is installing a dry stream bed from the rain gutter. By designing and installing a natural flowing stream bed type of drainage system you can capture some of that rain water that may end up in the street gutters. This water can help recharge your local underground water table supply and also supply needed water for your landscape plant materials that you can design in to accent your stream bed and water garden to enhance the overall look of your landscape.
Take advantage of free rain water and do your part to help conserve and use it more prudently.
* Be sure to check with your local water supplier as a number of agencies provide rebates for rain barrel purchases.
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.
Remember those famous words spoken by the narrator on the 70's Sci-Fi TV show The "Outer Limits" ?
Not that old huh ? Well you missed a great sci-fi show that had goose bumps on my arms. ( Maybe they still show re-runs on TVLand or some other station like that )
Any way in today's world of "Intelligent Irrigation Controllers" consumers can literally control their irrigation systems while at work,overseas or stuck in traffic as many of us Southern California folks are each day. The age of the simple irrigation controller that you just plug in, set your run times and days to water are pretty much a thing of the past now that "Smart controllers" are making consumers lives more easy and their pocketbooks fuller from cash saved from reducing their outdoor water use.
There are a number of Smart Controllers on the market today and having a basic knowledge of the choice's can make a big difference in your investment cost and most important, your desired results of having a properly irrigation managed landscape for your home or business.
Just what is a "Smart Controller" ?
When you think about "Smart Technology you may first remember that most central air systems in homes and heating systems work through Smart Technology. The thermostats read the temperatures within a given space and the system automatically adjusts the temps to what you have programed your comfort levels to be at a given time,and within a particular room or space. This type of technology best sets the stage for today's modern Smart Irrigation Controllers.
Smart Controllers work almost like that thermostat for your irrigation system giving it instructions on when to come on, go off,how long the cycle should run etc... The Smart Controller uses local weather stations to send signals to the controller to make adjustments according to weather and landscape plant materials actual needs vs gardener guessing.
Smart controllers allow watering based on a plant groups actual needs and requirements to survive. When all the correct data is entered into the Smart Controller consumers can be more at ease with worrying about whether to water or not and if they are wasting water due to improper watering schedules.
Many cities and water districts offer "Rebates" on particular models of Smart Controllers and it is worth the time to go online and check with your local water agencies and water purveyors to see what you may qualify for if you do choose to "Upgrade" your present controller.
Their are a number of distributors such as John Deere Landscapes, Ewing Irrigation,& Hydroscape that have a national presence that carry quality Smart Controllers and their are also various licensed landscape contractors that are "Certified Water Managers and irrigation specialist. Check out this website: www.clca.us/water and go to the certified water manager link for help in finding a certified water manager. You can also go to the website : www.irrigatortech.com to help in your search for certified irrigation specialist.
Some other "Smart Controller" links: www.hunterirrigation.com ,
With our California drought showing no end in site, a number of business and private home owners are considering redoing their landscapes and irrigation systems and taking advantage of the available rebate programs out there for retro-fitting your existing irrigation systems to drip or retro-fitting your existing pop-up sprinkler nozzles to a more efficient rotary type delivery nozzle and there are rebates available on the commercial site level to replace existing popup sprinkler stems and bodies with a type of popup stem that will help the client save water.
There needs to be caution however and investigation on what rebate programs are available to you, what requirements have to be met by your water provider.
There are various product types eligible for commercial client rebates such Weather based "Smart" irrigation controllers, Central computer irrigation controller systems, Large high efficiency nozzles, Rotating nozzles for pop-up spray heads, In-stem flow regulators, Rain barrels, and many more water efficient materials are going to be on the rebate horizon with our current drought showing no signs of letting up.
With many local cities offering rebates on turf removal, it is a wise choice in those areas where turf is not being actively used and maintenance to that turf area is a hassle and costly.
Be careful when hiring contractors that can do your project at little or no cost or for just signing over your rebate check to them as you may get a big surprise on what you have agreed to. I have heard horror stories of yards and yards of ugly grey crushed gravel with common everyday low water shrubs thrown in here or there with no weed barrier installed orwithout any type of irrigation system. The client is left to water the newly planted shrubs and ground cover and God knows what they will think or will have to do to get rid of the weeds once they do get a good rain or as a result of watering and having no weed barrier to help curb those potential weeds.
Inquire from the contractor the procedures,quantity and quality of the groundcover materials they propose to use at your home or business, and also ask for quality and variety in your plant selection choices. So what if you are not paying anything for the project, the contractor only lives with his or her installation one time, you on the other hand have to live with their work forever.
Do your part to reduce your water and energy cost and be aware of what is available and practical for your unique landscaping needs.
See you back here at "Ed's Blogs as I will give you a synthetic turf facts and tips in my next blog so stay tuned and share this blog with all your friends and business associates !
* Great water rebate site : www.bewaterwise.com
* Great web site to hire a certified water manager to help you efficiently manage your water use at your home or business:
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
California is entering it's third year of drought. The governor and the federal government have declared drought emergencies. Here are some tips and advice that can help reduce water waste and manage water very efficiently.
* Monitoring your water meter weekly for large increases that may indicate a leak in your system somewhere.
* Repair broken sprinklers and pipes right away.
* Learn to program your irrigation controllers and timers to water early in the mornings.
* Check soil moisture using a 12" screwdriver and if the soil is moist below 3" do not water.
* Choose water thrifty plant materials.
* Utilize organic mulches and native ground covers to conserve water and reduce evaporation of applied water.
* Check local water providers web sites for rebates on water thrifty irrigation controllers,sprinklers heads and nozzles.
* Hire knowledgeable irrigation specialist that can help you reduce your landscape water use.
By incorporating some or all of the tips and advice listed above you will be doing your part to help reduce wasting water and surely reduce your water bill during this drought.
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.
Retaining walls have been a mainstay for slope retention and erosion prevention for a long time. There are numerous companies that specialize in producing various styles and sizes of retaining wall materials for today's contractor and home owner. The latest addition to the mix of useable "Eco-Friendly" materials to use in building retaining walls is the fully plantable segmental retaining retaining wall block. Manufactured by Soil Retention Systems ( Which offers the Verdura Wall block ) The interlocking block has a section built into the block to allow for the planting of vegatation which will help in the retention of soil and aid in the reduction of water runoff and help maintain the natural habitat where the retaining walls are built. Use of native plant materials is encouraged as native plant roots can grow much longer and have the ability to bind the soil better and possibly faster than non native vegatation choice's.There are developer advantage's also as there no height restrictions when you are build a green wall ( Be sure to check your local city and county code requirements anyway to be sure ) so an increase in property value is a possibility by installing the green wall. LEED certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design ) points can possibly give the owner an opportunity to take advantage of state and local government incentives for your project also. Beautiful ground covers and vines add class and suit a landscaping purpose when using the plantable segmental retaining wall system.
* For more information on the plantable segmental retaining wall system go to the website www.soilretention.com.
* Information for this blog was obtained from the January/February 2011 publication "Soil Erosion and Hydroseeding" ( www.soilerosiononline.com ) article "Living Retaining Walls".