IRRIGATION Part 2

WHEN TO WATER

The best time to water is between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. There are many reasons why the experts say to water in the morning, but all the reasons originate from two place…bugs and disease. It seems logical to water at night to prevent water loss through evaporation, but a damp, dark landscape is a welcome wagon for bugs and disease. It is much less expensive to lose a little water through evaporation than it is to combat these pests with fungicides and pesticides.

Of course, if you live in an area where there are restrictions on water use, water when you can. A little water at the wrong time is better than none at all.

A QUICK INTRODUCTION TO DRIP IRRIGATION

Drip or trickle irrigation was conceived almost fifty years ago by an engineer in Israel, Symagha Blass. His observations of a tree near a leaky faucet having more growth than other trees nearby led him to patenting a low pressure water delivery system that applied water ‘drop by drop.’

It has been the agriculture sector of the irrigation industry that has benefitted the most from his discovery. Drip irrigation systems in agriculture provide many benefits to the farmer: Low pressure operation, fertilizer application directly to the root zone, weed control, because of reduced wetting areas, reduced run-off, and, most importantly, drip irrigation provides greater yields over more conventional irrigation techniques.

As in agriculture, drip irrigation of landscape projects provides reduced run-off, weed control, and accelerated plant growth. In addition, drip systems in landscaping allow for irrigating any time of day. Because drip emitters do not spray water, there is little evaporation, and no spray means no foliage or buildings getting wet.

One of the best reasons for using drip irrigation is the reduction of controller stations and valves. Because drip emitters flow so little water when compared to the conventional spray heads, you can irrigate more plants or plant area with the same amount of water. You should remember, however, that you will need more time to irrigate those plants since the application rate is so much slower.

TROUBLE SHOOTING

Because your irrigation system is outdoors and is exposed to the elements, and is made up of components which are sometimes damaged by lawn mowers, cars, etc., there may come a time when you will need to know what to do in the event of damage.

First, always be on the lookout for malfunctioning sprinkler heads and soggy areas that may indicate an underground water leak. If your irrigation system is in some way damaged, there are several different things you can do.

1. If the damage is one particular sprinkler head, you can simply turn off the section on the controller which the damaged head is located in. By turning off this one section, the remainder of your landscape is irrigated without interruption.

2. If, for some reason, #1 is not effective, unplug the controller from the source of electricity. This will turn off your entire irrigation system, so none of the sections will receive water.

3. If this is still ineffective, there is probably a break in the main water line that supplies the system. To stop the leak and to stop the supply of water to the entire system, turn off the main water valve that is located near your water meter.

If you need further assistance, please feel free to call.

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IRRIGATION Part 1

There is only one reason for the application of water on turf and other planted areas – to aid in the continual vigor of the turf and plants which result in a pleasing visual scene.

But the application of water on landscaped areas is not always as easy as it may initially seem. The ultimate condition of soil in which the turf and plants grow must have the proper balance of air, water, and soil particles. When this balance is not achieved or maintained, burning or smothering may result, causing damage to the turf and plants. That is why it is important to understand a few basic principles of how your irrigation system and landscape work together.

IRRIGATION SCHEDULING

When the installation of your irrigation system was completed, the controller of your system was programmed to deliver the amount of water a new landscape needs to properly establish itself. Two or three weeks after installation, you can begin to adjust the controller to deliver only the amount of water your landscape needs to maintain itself. Too much water is just as harmful to your landscape as too little water.

To get the most out of irrigation water, you need to constantly assess just how much water is needed and run the system to deliver proper amounts. For instance, within a given week, if Mother Nature is so kind to deliver the amount of free water to your landscape that you would normally apply through your irrigation system, do not allow your system to operate. Simply by-pass the operating times on your controller to prevent overwatering.

There are several ways, from simple to quite complex, that watering frequencies and amounts can be established. The appearance of grass can be used as a guide to when to water. Footprints that remain visible on the grass for several minutes after walking on it, loss of leaf luster, wilting appearance of shrubs and small trees, and a blue-grey appearance of the turf indicate a need for water. Irrigating shortly after these conditions are noticed will lead to rapid improvement to turf quality. If the water stress proceeds to the point where the leaves turn brown, it can take days or even weeks of irrigation to return the turf to the quality it had before it became stressed.

Soils act as a reservoir for storing and supplying water for turf use. A high percentage of turf roots are in upper 2 to 3 inches of soil; however, effective rooting and corresponding water extraction also occur at deeper soil depths. Because of better aeration, grass normally roots much deeper in sands and loams than in clay soils. Consequently, turf grown on a good, sandy loam soil does not require irrigation as frequently as that grown on a heavy clay soil. With heavy clay soils, the tendency is to overwater continuously, causing a shallow-rooted turf that is difficult to manage.

Estimating critical soil moisture amounts to use as a guide on when to irrigate can be done by probing the soil with a screwdriver, heavy wire, or similar simple probe. Usually, when a probe easily penetrates the soil to 3 to 4 inches, enough water is available to carry the grass for about a day, depending, of course, on the rate the water dissipates from the soil.

Irrigation scheduling needs to take into account whether an area is composed of heavy clay, is compacted, or is steeply sloped. Cyclic irrigation, or repeated, short applications of water throughout the day is effective to minimize runoff on slopes and heavy soils. Cyclic watering, especially with an automatic irrigation system, can be quite helpful in reducing runoff and preventing ponding. Other ways to prevent water loss is by aerating and dethatching. Aeration holes catch and hold water until it can infiltrate the soil. Breaking the thatch barrier by the use of a dethatching rake or dethatching machine will speed water movement into the soil.

If your soil is sandy, you can probably expect to water every 3 days. On clay soil, watering every other day seems to be the norm.

 

Look for part 2 in a few days

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