Every spring, your irrigation system should be inspected before turning it on automatically. Rodents love irrigation lines – maybe they’re made of soybeans like my car seats. Your inspection will reveal repairs that need to be made. A garden cleanup will make it easier to see where your lines are.
Adjust your controller’s timer to the correct time and days of operation. If you have a backup battery, spring is a good time to replace it. If you have a weather detection system, you will want to clean the sensors.
Slowly open the main valve and allow the system to fill with water. Manually operate each station and check for leaks to ensure water is coming out of each emitter and sprayer. Some may need to be replaced. Clean all filters.
In the days following your work on your system, go outside and check that the plants seem to be getting enough water. Water from the drip emitters has spilled underground, so probe a bit. You will need to do this throughout the watering season and adjust watering durations as the hotter summer months warm up and again in the fall as the days get shorter and the sun rises. water needs decrease.
Hand watering part of your garden once a week or so is a good way to keep in touch with the condition of each plant. The rules allow watering by hand if your hose nozzle has a shut-off device.
How much water does your system use? If you know the gallons per minute each valve uses, you can determine the total amount for each stroke. For example, a single zone using 5 GPM on for 30 minutes will use 150 gallons. Two days a week is 2,400 gallons per two month billing cycle, or about 3 CCUs as listed on your bill.
Do you have a leak? Make sure nothing is leaking and check your water meter to see if water is flowing. On an older analog meter, the little triangle will spin slowly if there is water anywhere. Digital systems show any water flow.
Evaluate your garden layout and consider moving plants with similar water needs next to each other if it suits your overall design. Mark your calendar to do this in the fall when conditions are better as the winter rains approach.
If you have problem plants, like a hydrangea that wilts in the summer months if you don’t top up its water, maybe it’s the summer to give it up and consider less thirsty alternatives to plant in. autumn. Having fewer plants in the garden will use less water.
Reading the recent study that the last two decades have been the driest in 1,200 years tells us that we all need to get serious about using less water. Shrinking lawns in the West is a sensible thing to do. Do the kids really need all that lawn or could it be smaller?
Investigate the idea of planting more natives. Many use less water and benefit local populations of animals and insects more because they have evolved together and are interdependent.
Marin Water has a section on their website called the WaterSmart Gardening Resource Center, where a booklet called Watershed Approach to Landscaping is available in PDF format. This helpful booklet, available in hard copy for free at the main office at 220 Nellen Ave., Corte Madera, is packed with plant lists, landscaping, irrigation information and more. It is worth using it as a guide to improving your garden.
The University of California Marin Master Gardenerssponsored by UC Cooperative Extension, provide scientific and research-based information to home gardeners.