July is SmartWater Month


In June 2013 Governor Jerry Brown stated, “I invite all Californians to practice more sustainable water consumption, whether it be watering the lawn less frequently, constructing a drip irrigation system for the garden or upgrading existing systems with smart irrigation controllers.”

Martin Cleary, the President of Cleary Bros adds, “July is when our plants need the most water.  A key is to add water incrementally into July, but it’s critical to start looking for reduced water demand as we get near the end of July.  Even though it may be hot in August, the days are shorter and the overall water demand from the plants is reduced.”

Bay Area Rebates for Water Conservation

Alameda County Water District (ACWD) is now offering a lawn conversion rebate up to $500 for residential and up to $3,000 for commercial properties through its Water-Efficient Landscape Rebate Program[1].

Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) Lawn Be Gone! Program[2] provides rebates to approved customers that convert water-thirsty lawns to water-efficient landscapes. Maximum rebates are $500 for a single-family residence and $3,000 for a business or multi-family property.

California American Water offers residential and nonresidential customers in our Sacramento & Larkfield districts, many different rebates to help our customers conserve water[3].

Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) is offering rebates of up to $500 for residential and up to $5,000 for commercial properties through its Landscape Rebate Program[4].

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) offers an integrated package of both irrigation upgrade and lawn conversion rebates[5] – up to $2500 for single and multi-family residential properties (4 units or less) and up to $20,000 for commercial and multi-family (5 units or more) properties.

North Marin Water District has several rebate programs[6] available including a Cash-For-Grass” Turf Rebate, Water Smart Landscape Rebate, and Water Smart Landscape Rebate for residential customers. Confirm eligibility during your free Water Smart Home Survey.

Santa Clara Valley Water District offers rebate programs[7] that can help residents and businesses save both water and energy.

Solano County Water Agency offers a water-efficient landscaping rebate program[8]. Maximum rebate is $1,000.

Valley of the Moon Water District is offering a Cash for Grass Rebate Program[9]. Maximum rebate of $550 is available for removing turf.

Zone 7 Water Agency offers several rebate programs[10] in cooperation with its water retailers. Maximum rebates are $500 for a single-family residence and $3,000 for a business or multi-family property.

Many Bay Area cities are currently offering landscaping water conservation rebates as well:

City of Cotati is offering residential and commercial customers a Cash for Grass Turf Rebate in return for reducing the amount of lawn area in their landscapes and replacing with low water use landscapes. Maximum rebates are $500 for a single-family residence and $5,000 for a business or multi-family property.

City of Napa is offering water customers a Cash For Grass Turf Replacement Rebate[11] to replace their thirsty lawns with water-efficient landscaping. Maximum rebates are $500 for a single-family residence and $2,500 for a business or multi-family property.

City of Petaluma provides Commercial, Industrial and Institutional accounts as well as Multi-Family Residential accounts up to a $900 rebate for the purchase of a Smart Irrigation controller[12].

City of Pleasanton offers Water-Efficient Landscape Rebates[13] to residential, commercial, and irrigation customers, in conjunctions with Zone 7’s lawn Replacement Rebate. Maximum rebates are $250 for single family and $3,000 for irrigation and commercial customers.

City of Santa Rosa has both residential rebates[14] and commercial rebates[15] for turf replacement, irrigation efficiency improvement, and/or rainwater harvesting.

City of Sonoma in cooperation with the Valley of the Moon Water District, offers many programs and incentives to conserve water including low water-use demonstration gardens and a Cash for Grass Rebate[16].

Town of Windsor is offering rebates for the removal of turf grass or for the purchase of lawn sprinkler equipment upgrades[17] that improve the efficiency of your existing irrigation system.


This information comes from the Bay Friendly and Gardening Coalition.

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.

Hudson Puente joins Cleary Bros. Landscape, inc

Cleary Bros. Landscape welcomed Hudson Puente as an arborist to the Danville, Calif.-based company.

Puente will lead a service team for the company’s maintenance clients and develop new business in the East Bay and the Tri-Valley areas.

“I’m excited to join the Cleary Bros. team and hopefully become a contributor right away,” Puente said. “I have a lot to learn about their operations, but it’s a fantastic environment. Everyone has been very supportive.”

Puente is a former intern of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., and he participated in a post-graduate professional internship with Disney World’s horticulture department in Orlando.