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:
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
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
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.
Time of Year:
The most suitable time of year to do native planting is during the typical rainy period here in Southern California. Fall season normally is the start of the winter rain and with our warm days and cool nights, the establishment of native plants and the survival rate is greatly increased as the plants rooting system is active and top growth is limited due to the short sunlight periods of time through the fall days. Spring time is also a great time to do plantings of natives and the winter rains help keep the plants well hydrated. As we move into the warmer months of the year, it is advisable to take note of what types of natives you are attempting to install and understand that plants blooming period. Work at adjusting your installation time to duplicate the native plants natural cycle of growing and blooming. It is better to plant before it blooms than just before in my opinion. With the warmer summer months, it becomes difficult to balance the natives actual water needs ( Some native receive almost no supplemental water at all during the warmer summer months ) and the actual moisture needs of the plant due to evapotransporation of the applied water to the plant. Some folks and contractors for that matter, tend to over water the native due to the need to keep the plant alive but the natural characteristics and requirements of the native is to not receive as much water as it is receiving thus leading a lot of times to plant failure and death.
keeping these thoughts in mind will help you better plan your native plant installation time and give you a better success rate when it comes to the survival of your plant materials.
"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.
Nature has a devine order. Part of that order is the laws of attraction. What is this law ? Visual beauty, unique characteristics, supplier of physical and/or social needs. These values are needed when developing or recreating a natural environment for beneficial insects and wildlife. There are various native plants Calif. natives in this case that will provide a great foundation and starting point for the creation of a native landscape. Review this short list of some of the more favorite and workable shrubs and small scale trees.
1. Calif. Coffeeberry : Rhamus californica -Attracts & supports native birds, hummingbirds,ladybugs,full sun/partial shade shrub,low water once established.
2. Cleveland Sage: Salvia clevelandii- Attracts & supports native birds,ladybugs,butterflies,full sun, partial shade shrub,low water once established.
3. Hollyleaf Cherry: Prunus ilicifolia ssp ilicifolia-Attracts & supports native birds,full sun/partial shade shrub, low water once established.
4. Calif. Lilac: Ceanothus species-Attracts & supports butterflies,ladybugs,full sun/partial shade low water once established, * Suggested cultivars: Yankee Point,Concha,Skylark. ( One of the most fragrant and colorful natives)
5.Shrub Oak: Quercus berberidifolia ( Large shrub to small tree ) Attracts & supports native birds, full sun, low water once established. ( If you live on the coast, plant the locally endangered Coast Scrub Oak Quercus dumosa.)
6. Manzanita: Arctostaphylos species. Ground cover to tree. Attracts & supports native birds, hummingbirds,ladybugs,full sun/partial shade, low water once established. * Suggested cultivars: Sunset, Howard McMinn. ( Manzanitas are being lost as a result of urban sprawl, so plant many ! )
Be sure to check with your professional landscaper or nursery to obtain more details on your choices and most important,
OBEY THE LAWS !
* Native plant list was compiled from brochure "Top 10 native plants to attract wildlife into your garden" by Flyway Cities Coalition San Diego.