Saturday, May 30, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Basic Watering 101: How many days a week should I water?
How many days a week should one irrigate?
There is no set answer that applies to all. I can tell you that it is better to irrigation fewer times a week with longer durations then it would be to water a few minutes everyday.
A formula would be:
PR / D = RT
Desired precipitation amount per each zone divided by number of days you want to irrigate, this will give you your station run time. Do this for each zone and constantly make adjustments as the weather changes. Remember that not all zones will need the same amount of water due to different hydro zones with each property.
As a basic rule of thumb I usually water 3 days a week. Monday, Wednesday & Friday or Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday. You want to try to avoid watering the morning of when your lawn is mowed.
Basic Watering 101: How long should I run a zone for?
When I go to service a home and check the controller the majority of the homes will have the same amount of time for each zone.
Here are a few questions to think about if you have the same run times for all of your zones.
Are the same type of heads on each zone? Rotors or Sprays
Are all the zones in full sun, shade, partial shade?
Are all the zones on the same slope?
Are all the zones in the same soil conditions?
So if you have all the same type of heads, in full sun, on the same degree of slope and with the same soil conditions. Then YES you can water all of your zones for the same amount of time.
If you answered NO, don't worry you are among the 99.99% majority of homeowners with lawn irrigation systems.
You want to have different run times for different types of heads:
Spray heads may run between 3-20 minutes depending on soil, sun vs shade and degree of slope.
Rotors may run 12-60 minutes depending on soil, sun vs. shade and degree of slope.
Drip irrigation may run 15-90 minutes depending on application
Full Sun zones will run longer then shaded zones.
Sloped areas will run for less duration then level areas. (But they will have a higher frequency then level areas to compensate for the decrease in duration)
Different types of soil will have different infiltration rates. Clay soil will not absorb water like sand will.
Basic Watering 101: When should I water?
When should you water your lawn?
Lets start with when you SHOULD NOT WATER your lawn.
Between the hours of 9am and 8pm you should only water your lawn if there is a special reason since you will only get a fraction of the water absorbed due to evaporation.
Don't be that person that is outside in the middle of the day watering their lawn. When I am driving through developments it boggles my mind when see someone outside watering their lawn, it seems like they just want everyone to see that they have an irrigation system. The best system is one you don't realize is there. You just notice how nice the turf is and never see the system run.
The best time to run your turf zones is predawn. Depending on the size of the system I usually prefer a start time between 5am-6am. The start time will actually be determined by the total time it will take the system to cycle through. If your system is large and your total run time is over 4hrs then you might consider dividing your system into two programs to achieve an adequate amount of water.
Flowerbed zones are a little bit different. I prefer to water the flowerbed zones 7-9am.
Why watering in the daytime is not ideal:
For an example, say your goal is 1" of water to be absorbed to a maximum depth of 4". If you water your lawn mid day and apply 1" of water you may only see .4-.6" of an inch absorbed to a max depth of 1.5" since you are losing the rest of the water to evaporation.
Besides the obvious reason of evaporation running your irrigation predawn ensures low winds and higher water pressure.
Labels: when to water lawn
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Irrigation ToolBox: 2009 Operations Manual
Want to learn more about how to start up your irrigation / lawn sprinkler system?
Maybe you want to know what do in the middle of the summer?
Or how about in the Fall before Winter?
Email me for my 2009 Revised Operations Manual which covers the basics of how to
Labels: diy irrigation spring start up
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Irrigation Advice 101: DON'T WAIT
Don't wait until the weather gets hot and dry before you call for a Spring Start-up. Temps got into the 80's and as a result over 200 calls came in over two days. We only can service 12-16 Start-ups a day due to the amount of time spent at each house. During the fall we can shut down 75 homes a day since the time spent on site is a fraction of the time that it takes for a Spring Start-up service. We started scheduling for Spring Start-ups the second week of April. A majority of the customers that have us out for service in April just have us check the system and program the timer BUT we leave it in the OFF Position and the homeowner then turns it ON when they are ready. This is a good way for anyone that likes to be ahead of the game.
Don't wait to start watering when your grass is dry. If you wait for it to start to go brown then you have waited too long and it might take a couple of weeks of watering for it to bounce back.
Labels: don't wait to water
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Watering Index: 5/23/09
Seasonal Adjustment: If your baseline program (100%) is for July then have your seasonal adjustment at 70-80%. If you baseline program (100%) was set up for spring weather then adjust your program to 120%.
Otherwise you are looking to irrigate 1" of water for the week until further notice
Seasonal Adjustment: If you baseline program (100%) is for July then have your seasonal adjustment at 80%. If your baseline program (100%) was set up for the spring weather then adjust your program to 120-130%.
Otherwise you are looking to irrigate 1"-1.25" of water until further notice
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Finally Some Warm Weather
The forecast is warm and dry.
I am finally going to start my lawn sprinkler system up over the weekend.
Lets cross our fingers, maybe will will finally be transitioning into "Summer" here shortly. Earlier in the week we had two Frost advisories and of which we some areas ended up with a hard frost. Gotta love the Cleveland weather...
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Our Emergency Service Extension 707
Our Emergency Service Extension #707
The purpose of our Emergency Service Extension is to provide "Emergency Service" meaning that once a call comes in we send out a service tech as soon as possible to take care of your needs. Since this is a paid premium service for both warranty and non-warranty calls we charge our normal service fees and labor plus the drive time to and from the service call. We used to answer this line 24 hours a day 7 days a week. But due to people abusing the line for questions about their bills and asking questions that are answered via our office help we have limited the service to 14hrs a day. Maybe in the future as it is learned that the service is for extreme emergencies we will return to 24/7 answering. I think after the fourth call at 11pm that woke me up from sleeping for the reason asking a routine question that our office personnel could answer I decided that it was not being used for the intended purposes.
Labels: emergency irrigation service
Ask Me Irrigation Questions or Issues
Millers Presort Printing Company Akron Ohio Steve Shamblin
I just needed to vent about a printing company located in Akron Ohio. We have used Millers Presort for a few years for our printing needs. Last year we had numerous times where we not only received poor product (poor materials, each printing had the ink bleeding so bad it was hard to read some of the words) but unmanageable service. For starters I am not in the printing business, but I would have to assume any legit business would have a company policy to print a proof and to receive approval for job before sending it to production. Not Millers Presort they just print what they think you may of wanted then charge you for the incorrect printing that they did not have an approved proof for and they just point the finger at each other and basically throw their hands up and say, don't know how it happened, we will try not to let it happen again, pay your bill for our screw up. Of course at the time they were horrified they did such a big screw up and promised to reprint to make it right. But after 30 days of no reprint they then change their tune since Cynthia Morris would not take responsibility for her unprofessional act of not getting a proof approved. And by the time I was able to finally get in touch with the owner Stephen Shamblin, Steve ducked the situation like a silent owner would whom had no idea how his business ran day to day. So for all you "key" employees at Millers Presort in Akron Ohio (Cynthia, Bill & Steve) and I would like to say THANKS for being the worst printing business in Ohio. I hope that you decide to run a reputable company in the future and abide by common sense rules such as; don't send a postcard to production UNLESS YOU HAVE AN APPROVED PROOF.
This is not a case of "You get what you pay for either" Millers Presort was 2-3x the price of another company that I have used before without issues. But I made the mistake of trusting Bill Bitterman at Millers Presort that everything would be done in a timely and professional manner. BIG MISTAKE.
THANKS AGAIN FOR SCREWING UP MY JOB, I HOPE THAT YOU WILL MAN UP ONE DAY AND MAKE GOOD ON YOUR PROMISE TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT.
Miller's Presort, Inc.
1147 Sweitzer Ave. Akron, Ohio 44301-1384
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Watering Index: 5/16/09
Cleveland & Columbus Seasonal Adjustment customers:
If initial program was for mid summer temps: 50%
If initial program was for Spring temps: 100%
Cleveland Weekly Watering Goal: .3 inch
Days to run: 1-3 days a week
Columbus Weekly Watering Goal: .35 inch
Days to run: 1-3 days a week
Friday, May 15, 2009
IGIN Irrigation Connection 101: North Carolina
Customers complain all the time about their water bills and take it for granted how inexpensive our water bills are. The next time you think your bill is too high think about this; In North Carolina a new State regulation would require irrigation systems tied to municipal water or public water supplies to have their own meters. Those charges are about $3,800. The meters are to have an additional upfront cost to help protect the state's water supply, basically a flat fee to have the right to irrigate your lawn. Officials in Charlotte, North Carolina are also considering imposing a surcharge on irrigation consumers that use high volumes of water during a drought. City Council members increased water rates by 15% last year, after mandatory watering restrictions negatively affected the revenue of the utility department. Do you think they will lower rates in the future if they receive more revenue then they project? Yeah right...
So your $3000-$6000 irrigation system would end up being $6800-$9800, my crystal ball tells me that would leave a few people unemployed as well as be a little unfair to those that are grandfathered in. You would think that instead they would just consider placing some kind of tax or fee of $50 or so per a house. Since they may have what 30,000 - 50,000 + existing systems. (40,000 x 50 = $2,000,000) which would equal 526 new systems.
I think I may add to this post time to time since it really bugs me;
$3,800 to help protect the States water supply? Unless they mean to protect against theft or terrorism they probably mean to help preserve the States water supply. I don't get paid the big bucks to sit around and discuss these matters but if I were to I would just throw them a curve ball..
GET THIS.... Lets think out of the box for a minute.. Instead of just being lazy and throwing a large monetary number for a new irrigation system.. why don't you.... set standards for efficiency for new systems and existing systems. This is not rocket science, the average system can achieve an increase of 30-50% in efficiency when audited properly and in combination to affordable ET technology. Maybe they would not like that idea since it would have a negative effect on their revenue :( and they also would not be able to charge the $3,800 fee for those that wanted to protect their investments.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Irrigation ToolBox: A NEW!! Item to Add to the Irrigation ToolBox of Knowledge
Ok, do any of the two following situations apply to your system?
Do you have a zone of sprays where some are in sun and some are in shade and you can't run the zone too much or your will saturate the shaded area?
Do you have a station that has both sprays and rotors on the same zone?
Well in years past you would just basically be out of luck. But in recent years a newer technology came out for a nozzle that inserts into a spray body. It uses a spray body but has a precipitation rate of a rotor. So if you had a zone of sprays with heads that were in both sun and shade, then you would want to install the Hunter MP Rotator nozzles or Rain Birds Rotatory nozzles into the spray body's in the shade so that they would distribute the water at a slower rate then those in the sun. And they should also be inserted into the spray bodies on stations that share both sprays and rotors on the same zone.
Below is a pic of what they look like in action and what the part looks like that gets inserted into the spray body.
The nozzles come in all different types of spray patterns from side strips to 30' patterns.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Irrigation Advice 101: Drip Irrigation
Micro / Drip Irrigation however you would like to refer to it..
- Water efficient, water efficient and water efficient
- You have control over how much water each plant receives
- Higher maintenance
- Some drip irrigation are mounted on stakes that stick up out of the ground, this can be annoying to some homeowners
- Expect to spend time every year tweaking the system a little and replacing nozzles
- Expect to have to run the zone longer since the applications are Gallons Per Hour (GPH) instead of Gallons Per Minute (GPM) like traditional Spray & Rotors are based on.
Above is a selection of drip irrigation applications.
The top left corner is the most common application and the stakes do not retract back into the ground and they are visible at all times. The bottom right corner is another application where the stake will be visible at all times.
The bottom left corner is an in line drip application which if I install I prefer to circle about each plant to ensure proper watering.
The top right corner is an example of an application where there is a drip emitter on a shorter stake, the stake stays visible at all times. This is an efficient application for smaller plants.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Watering Index: May 9th 2009
Looks like you can keep the systems off until next week, the weather forecast looks to improve with warmer temperatures the beginning of next week. So maybe by mid-week or May 21st you can program your system for 1-2 days a week with a goal of .33 of an inch of water for the week.
Looks like you can keep your systems off until next weekend May 16th, then you will want to schedule for two days a week with a goal of .33 of an inch of water for seeded lawns and closer to .5 of an inch for sodded lawns per a week.
The watering information was for partial sun to full sun applications.
Areas with shade should not need watering just yet.
Basic Watering 101.. to be continued
Below is a BASIC WATERING tid bit of information:
Should you run every zone for the same amount of time? NO
The reason(s) that you do not typically run every zone for the same amount of time:
- Different hydra zones throughout the yard; full sun, part sun, shade
- Different sprinkler heads distribute water at different rates; drip, sprays, rotors
- Different types of soil, slopes
What's perfect for your lawn?
My crystal ball is not working today, so I am going to have to say that each house is different and there is not a standard answer that applies to every system. If you really want to get precise with your watering you can have an irrigation audit where we analyze each zone to find out what are the optimal run times for efficiency.
Labels: Irrigation watering tips
Friday, May 8, 2009
Irrigation Advice 101: Seasonal Adjust Button on Irrigation Controller
So you want to reduce your water bills?
Or better yet, you want to conserve a natural resource?
OK, I have a simple solution if you are willing to take a minute to learn about a feature found on some of the newer controllers that are rich with features.
If you own a Hunter PRO-C or Hunter ICC controller your season adjust button
Will be the up/down arrow you see in the upper left corner of the controller.
If you own a Rain Bird controller, look to see if the feature is listed on the dial of the timer.
What is the Seaonal adjust button and how does it work?
The Seasonal adjust button changes the run times that are programed for your individual zones by a % accross the board. For example on the Hunter controllers if zone #1 is programmed for 10 minutes at a 100% seasonal value and zone #2 is programmed at 20 minutes. If you increase your seasonal adjustment to 150% it will raise your run times of each zone by 50% so zone #1 will run for 15 minutes instead of 10 and zone #2 will run for 30 minutes instead of 20.
What I recommend is to have your system programed at 100% for 80 degree weather and adjust up and down from there based on your current conditions.
The benefit to using this feature is our watering requirements change and if you leave a generic flat line program in your controller you are most likely over watering in the Spring and Fall and under watering when it counts the most in the middle of the summer.
FYI: If you see the following logo in the upper right corner of our website, that means I am online and I am available for chat and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Labels: seasonal adjustment
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Now is the Time
Now is the time to get on our schedule to start your irrigation system up for the season.
Irrigation Safety 101: Why Backflow?
You must have a backflow preventer on your irrigation system. In most places this is the law, everywhere else it's just the smart thing to do. Almost everywhere the local authorities will dictate that certain types of backflow preventers may not be used with irrigation systems because they do not provide adequate protection. In some cases, the authorities will dictate the exact type of backflow preventer you MUST use. You may hear or see the term "Cross-Connection Control" used, this essentially is referring to backflow prevention.
Why do you need a backflow preventer? All irrigation systems contain a chemical called dihydrogen monoxide. This odorless, tasteless chemical is known to be deadly if inhaled and has killed millions of people. OK, before you flame me, dihydrogen monoxide is, of course, the scientific name for ordinary water (h2o). Which points out that you have to be really careful about what you read and believe on the Internet. Unfortunately when it comes to backflow preventers there is a lot of questionable, and sometimes completely wrong, information. So what's the deal with backflow prevention? Is it really necessary? The answer is yes!
Your landscape has all kinds of nasty things in it that will make you sick or worse if you drink them. Thus irrigation water is considered a contaminant (creates a health hazard) rather than just a pollutant (is objectionable in color or odor). What's in irrigation water? How about toxic chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) and animal waste? (Not that I want to gross you out, but every day millions of dogs lift their legs in a fond salute to their favorite sprinkler head!) These things can and WILL come back up your irrigation pipes and into your drinking water if you don't stop them. If you have a well they can go down your well and into everyone else's drinking water. If you are on a community water system they could go back up into the pipes and poison your neighbors. The valves that turn on and off your irrigation system are not sufficient to stop backflow. The purpose of the backflow preventer is to protect you when the valve breaks or leaks, which all valves will do eventually. Saving a little money by skipping the backflow preventer will not seem so smart after you spend a small fortune on hospital bills (or funeral expenses) for a poisoned family member or pet!
Now wait a minute, some people say, doesn't the water pressure in the system keep the irrigation water from going backwards? Yes, most of the time it does. But there are times when the water pressure drops in the supply system, and this is when the backflow occurs. No, it is not a frequent occurrence. But it does happen more often than you think. Such as when they have to shut off the water to repair a water pipe, or hook up a new pipe. This makes construction projects easily the most common cause of backflow problems. Fire fighting is another common cause of backflow. Fire trucks use huge pumps to suck the water out of the fire hydrants. This often causes the water pressure in the water system to drop, and backflow will occur in the surrounding neighborhoods. You can do a quick experiment yourself and create backflow. Simply tun off the water valve leading to your house. Next have someone turn on a faucet. Now turn on a different faucet that is higher than the first. You will hear air being sucked into the higher faucet. You just created backflow in your house piping. Pretty easy, wasn't it?
Another common argument against the need for backflow preventers is that if all the valves are closed the water can't go backwards through them. So the valves will prevent backflow. The obvious problem with this is that if the backflow occurs at a time when the valve is open, the valve will not stop backflow! But even when the valve is closed it may not prevent backflow. A standard manually operated valve will stop backflow when it is closed-- if the valve if fully closed, has good seals, and does not leak. However most of the automatic valves, such as the electric solenoid valves used for irrigation systems, will not stop backflow even when fully closed. This is because these valves are directional in design, if you look on the valve you sill see that it has an arrow on it showing the flow direction. If the flow is reversed, the valve will not completely close and will leak (that's why the valve has the arrow on it to warn you not to install it backwards.) Thus when backflow occurs and the flow direction reverses, an automatic valve will not stop the backward flow.
The following information was from Jess Stryker's Irrigation Tutorials, someone that we have listed as one of our resources that is benefiting the industry.
Labels: why backflow
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Irrigation Product Alert 101: Toro Flo Pro Valves
Stay away from the Toro Flo Pro valves, most of Toro's irrigation products leave a lot to be desired but the Flo Pro valves are lacking reliability of that over cheap knock-off brands one could find in a box store. If you have Toro Flo Pro valves its not a matter of if they will need to be replaced with a professional grade valve it is just a matter of when they will need to be replaced. If you have one or two go bad, my recommendation is to rip them all out when the manifold system is dug up. Digging up the manifold is the time consuming part of the service so you might as well replace all the other valves if you want to save money in the long run..
We are seeing a number of older Toro Flo Pro valves in Strongsville, Aurora & North Royalton. It seems to have been a favorite for a few contractors.
Timers/Clocks that we have noticed having issues so far: Rain Bird ESP (pre 2006), Hunter SRC (pre 2005), Toro (all), Irritrol (older Rain Dials) and there was 1 batch of bad Hunter Pro-C's that had a very limited date code on them. Off the top of my head I can't quite remember but I believe they had the grey mods inside them and may have been in the 2nd or 3rd year of production w/ a spring date code.