Water Management 104, Irrigation Timers

Water Management 104 – Irrigation Timers

Old Timer

If your Irrigation Timer looks like this…Replace it

Irrigation Timers have come a long way since they first began being widely used.

Unlike the old timer shown above, today’s irrigation timers can take into consideration site specific information such as soil type, as well as current weather patterns, to make a determination on how long to water.  Yes, that is correct, the new timers decide how much water to use based on algorithms that they have been programmed with.  These timers are called “Smart Timers.”

Currently there are many Smart Timer options available on the market.  The one thing they all have in common is that they take into account current weather conditions to help determine the Evapotraspiration (ET) rate.  With that information, they can calculate the amount of water to apply.  ET is a fancy word for the amount of water used by the plant material or lost from evaporation. To determine the rate of ET, smart timers communicate with local weather stations.

There are a lot of advantages to using a smart timer which include:

  • They are self adjusting based on current weather conditions.
  • The programing may take into account water budgets and constraints
  • The cost of water is reduced by reduced consumption
  • The water systems can be shut off automatically when surprise rain happens
  • In some cases, the timer can be monitored and adjusted through the Internet

That being said, we have heard of instances where property managers and owners have had smart timers installed, only to see the amount of water used increase. This is almost always because the timers were not programmed properly when they were installed.  As we like to say, a smart timer is only as smart as the person who programmed it.

With that in mind, if you are planning on installing a new smart timer on your property, make sure the landscaper who is maintaining the property has knowledge to properly program the timer and the ability to effectively manage it.  If we can be of assistance in helping you, just give Cleary Bros a call, we manage several hundred smart timers on a daily basis.  Give us a call, or Send us an Email, and our team of Irrigation Specialists and Account Managers will start the process of identifying timers that can and should be upgraded.  We will also work with you and your water district to check for potential rebates.

Cleary Bros catches bee swarm at their San Ramon office

Last Thursday morning, a Cleary Brothers employee, Oscar, found a swarm of bees outside the San Ramon office. He called his boss, Martin Cleary,  who happened to be a novice bee keeper.  Martin came and took a look at the swarm, and they both agreed they they should remove the bees to another home and not just leave them there, angering the other employees. They did  to want to anger the bees with other people around, so martin came early the next morning to remove them. Oscar brought a truck(  ) and Martin was lifted up to the bees, after he had put on his bee suit, of course. Martin gently put the bulk of the bees into a bee box that was used to carry his bees, that he already had, when he first had bought them. Martin was brought back to the ground and put the bees into the back of his truck, thanked Oscar, and drove home the put them with his three other hives of bees.

Bee Warm

 

The bees are swarming around the Queen as Scouts look for a place to make a hive.Cleary Bros Bucket Truck

Martin puts on the bee suit and safety harness and heads up.Martin Cleary goes up

The Bees go homeThe bees are on their way to a safe hive in Martin’s back yard.

Here is a recent article on the decline of bees.

 

 

 

Earth Day is Coming April 22

It’s a great day to plant a tree or do some improvements.  Anything helps! If we all make an effort to leave the Earth in better shape, we can make a difference.

Earth Day

Love Your Mother

How much should I water in the Bay Area?

Bay Area cities by irrigation zone

As we are turning up our sprinklers, it’s a good idea to do so with a plan.  These two charts should help.  The ETo (Water needed for a lawn area) represents how much water should be applied each month.  The Map shows the different cities by Zone.  The ETo is the estimated demand of water in Inches.  If it rains, deduct that amount  from the ETo.  How much water is your sprinkler system putting out?  A TYPICAL (they vary, and should be measured) spray head puts out 1.8 inches per hour.  If the ETo happens to be 1.8 for the month- that spray head should run a total of 1 hour in that month if there is no rain.  A typical rotor sprinkler will put out .7 inches per hour.  The brand of sprinkler is printed on the top of the sprinkler, each company has the specification of their web sites.

A few other water saving tips: if you have sloped areas- have the sprinkles run three times on a Water Day for short periods to avoid run off.  Water before sunrise.  Use mulch.  If the sprinklers are ‘misting’ due to too much pressure, turn the pressure down by partially closing the adjuster handle on the sprinkler valve.  Turn the water off if it has rained.  Change that lawn to some nice low water shrubs or trees.  Dig into the soil and take a look- if it’s wet, turn the water down.

EToByZone

A few other water saving tips: if you have sloped areas- have the sprinkles run three times on a Water Day for short periods to avoid run off.  Water before sunrise.  Use mulch.  If the sprinklers are ‘misting’ due to too much pressure, turn the pressure down by partially closing the adjuster handle on the sprinkler valve.  Turn the water off if it has rained.  Change that lawn to some nice low water shrubs or trees.  Dig into the soil and take a look- if it’s wet, turn the water down.

 

Water Management 103 – Drip Irrigation

We recently renovated this property in Pleasanton from an overhead spray system to 'Inline' drip.

We recently renovated this property in Pleasanton from an overhead spray system to ‘Inline’ drip.

First off, the team at Cleary Bros. Landscape would like to thank everyone who has been participating in the ceremonial rain dances as of late.  We’ve seen some much needed precipitation in the last month.  However, we are still in a serious state of drought and we can’t afford to relax yet.  In this, our 3rd installation of our Spring Water Management Series we would like to discuss drip irrigation.

Drip irrigation comes in many forms.  Most people are familiar with the small thin black tubing that weaves its way through the landscape, most of the time looking somewhat unruly.  Many of us in the industry call these thin lines spaghetti tubes.  This is just one example of drip irrigation that can be utilized in the landscape.

Other examples include 1/2 inch black poly tubing with emitters that are plugged into them.  Yet another example is a newer technology where the drip emitters are built into the tubing.  One brand that you may have heard of is Netafim Techline.

Converting a planter bed from an overhead spray system to a drip system can dramatically improve your landscape’s water efficiency while lowering your water bill.  Drip systems, when installed and maintained correctly, are the most efficient form of irrigation.  This is because the majority of the water put out is delivered to the root system of the plant material being watered.  With that in mind there are several benefits to converting to a drip system which include:

  • An overall reduction in water used to irrigate planter beds.
  • Less weed growth in planter beds.  This is due to the fact that you are not watering the entire bed but only the root zones of the plants.
  • Lower likelihood of damage to asphalt, fences, and walls that occurs from over spray.  Over spray from regular pop-ups in the landscape will almost always occur. By utilizing drip irrigation you can extend the life of your asphalt, fences, and siding.
  • Mulch will fade much slower in planter beds that have drip irrigation, this will lengthen the useful life of your bark and mulch.
  • Typical repairs to drip systems are less costly than spray systems.
  • EBMUD and other Water Districts are offering rebates to convert from spray to drip!  Consult your irrigation specialist because only certain types of drip systems will qualify.
The benefits of converting from overhead spray to drip irrigation are tangible and will save your property money in the long run.  With all of the options though, how do you decide what method is best for your property?  Give us a call, or Send us an Email, and our team of Irrigation Specialists and Account Managers will start the process of identifying potential areas.  We will also work with you and your water district to check for potential rebates.
This lush landscape in the Oakland Hills was installed by Cleary Bros. with inline drip irrigation over ten years ago.  We have been maintaining it ever since.

This lush landscape in the Oakland Hills was installed by Cleary Bros. with inline drip irrigation over ten years ago. We have been maintaining it ever since.

Comment from a property manager

Just a note of recognition-

To let you know the Board members at Somerset are sooo pleased with the way the lawns and landscaping look now, as compared to what it used to be like before you came on board. They are just thrilled the grass areas look so lush and green again.

Your continued team work is much appreciated-Happy St. Patty’s