By Maria Bargellini
It official, 2011 was the driest year on record and the second hottest. It is estimated that throughout Texas we lost as much as half a billion trees. That’s 500 million beautiful living trees people. Tough to imagine it getting hotter than last year or losing that amount of trees on a yearly basis. Estimates come in at roughly 2-10% loss of our 4.9 billion trees.
..”an estimated 100 million to 500 million trees with a diameter of 5 inches or larger on forestland were estimated to have succumbed to the drought. That range is equivalent to 2 to 10 percent of the state’s 4.9 billion trees.” Full release here
The drought is obviously the main culprit in these deaths as these numbers cover our forest, which do not benefit from irrigation. There has also been a great amount of residential tree death as is apparent during almost any stroll or drive around town. I believe many of the tree deaths in residential areas could have been avoided if the right species were chosen and irrigated properly.
I have seen a lot of death in trees with higher water requirements such as the Bald Cyprus, Cedars and Willows. In addition we lost a great many Palms from the winter cold, especially those that were not suited for this area. Windmill Palms and those protected from wind did the best last year.
High water trees suffered greatly but what about the other trees that have died. Native and adaptive varieties still have to be watered regularly for at least the first 2 seasons. The most common mistake is allowing new trees to go without the proper amount of water. Gatorbags (those green sacs you see at the base of trees in the medians) can be used to water the tree during restrictions.
I have assessed several properties for damages this year and from the information I have gathered many of those deaths are the result of improper irrigation. In some cases the inhabitants mainly tried to save money by not watering as much or not maintaining the sprinkler system. Sadly the end result is that in most cases it costs far more to replace the plant material then what the water or maintenance would have cost, especially if it’s a mature tree that can be upwards of 20,000. If this is you – Do Not expect to get that deposit back.
We now have a site dedicated exclusively for our Irrigation services. Lawn Sprinklers Dallas.Com was created to offer our clients and the public at large, information on sprinkler related topics such as: installation, repair, backflow testing, water audits, system upgrades, drainage solutions, and most importantly water conservation. There you will find blog posts on a variety of helpful topics like:
- The difference of spray and drip irrigation
- How to upgrade your existing system
- New controller technology
- Foundation Watering
- Trouble Shooting
- Water efficient sprinkler heads
- New irrigation regulations
- Drought warnings, stages, and watering schedules
- Drainage Solutions and much more.
The site has an integrated blog which will be updated frequently to offer you the latest in water related topics.
By Maria Bargellini of Dallas Curb Appeal Inc.
Have a creek in your back yard or in your community? Ever wonder where all the water comes from? Well here’s some useful information. Everything that goes into our storm drains ends up in our creeks, rivers, and lakes. Unfortunately most people don’t realize that dumping things in to the drain inlets pollute our rivers.
So that soapy water from washing the car, grass clippings, the excess fertilizer on lawns, and the random garbage that blows into the inlets all end up hurting the environment and all of us is the process. In an effort to prevent this from happening, the city of Dallas has a volunteer program to place markers on drains that let people know that there’s is NO Dumping allowed in the drain inlets.
Water Conservation videos
Here are some videos to help you keep your children inform and hopefully motivate them to conserve more water. Enjoy the videos
The City of Frisco –Watering Info
Frisco’s Dr. Drip water conservation Video
Frisco is leading the way with it’s efforts to conserve water. Here are some helpful links to help you get the most out of the information they provide. For the most part the weather in Frisco isn’t much different then in Dallas County. You can use their weekly recommendations to adjust your watering. Please note to follow your town’s ordinances and your amount of rain fall.
GET A FREE IRRIGATION SYSTEM CHECK-UP! NO STRINGS ATTACHED!
As a service to our customers, Dallas Water Utilities is conducting FREE automatic irrigation system check-ups.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has determined that homes with in-ground automatic irrigation systems use 35% more water than those without irrigation systems. And those households using automatic timers for their irrigation systems use 47% more than their neighbors with in-ground systems operating their systems manually.
Sprinkler Dallas: Smart Controllers
By Maria Bargellini
Dallas Landscape and Irrigation Contractor
The Smart controllers are a fantastic invention. These controllers are also referred to as ET (Evapotranspirational) controllers. This big fancy 2 part word has been created to describe the incorporation of Evaporation (change from liquid to vapor) and Transpiration-(plant’s water loss). The Smart Controller is designed to collect past and present weather data with the use of it’s weather station to estimate how much water has been lost through both processes and and how much water is then needed for your specific conditions.
If it rained once a day for 7 days, we got a total of 5″, and it was followed by 2 days of sweltering heat the Smart Controller will figure out how much water has evaporated from the ground, how much water was lost through transpiration and how much and when to water next. Ingenious right–well yes but it isn’t full proof, at least not yet. If you have plants that are covered by eaves or zones that have plants with mixed water requirements, or a faulty system the Smart Controller can’t recognize that.
You can however set the controller to understand the following conditions
- Sloped areas: This is great because all too often we don’t realize that we lose a lot of water from slope runoff. The controller can figure that out for you.
- Individual zone list: You can tell the controller what type of plant material you have per zone. For ex. pots, new planting, shrubs, grass, etc. have different water requirements and this will allow you to set it up so that they all get the water they need when they need it.
- Differentiate between Drip and spray zone: Drip has to stay on much longer than spray zones. This makes it easy to adjust them accordingly.
- Adjust the percentages of water for the year–for ex. In the summer you will do 100% of your water values but in the winter you will probably use 0-10% of your water values. Other controllers cannot be set to change percentages.
- You can block out days and times according to restrictions–The Smart Controller will adjust it’s watering schedule around the restricted date and times automatically.
- Valve Locator–(not all ET controllers have this) This is a fantastic tool. If you need to locate faulty or buried valves the SmartLine controller by Weathermatic will send a signal that will make it chirp so that you can find it.
How to do your own sprinkler check
By Gino Bargellini
Licensed Irrigator, Backflow Inspector, Certified auditor
The key to successfully irrigating your lawn or landscape is to make sprinkler checks routine. If you do not have the time you can hire a professional to come or you can simple turn on your sprinklers periodically to make sure they are function properly and pointed in the right place. Doing so can save you both time and money. You are going to set your sprinkler controller to manually run for about 2 minutes at each zone. This will allow you time to evaluate the zone for any damage or leaks. Buy markers or flags to mark heads that need to be repaired.
Common sprinkler repairs
Mis-directed or misaligned heads–Children and pets running across lawns and moving mowers may cause damage to your heads that you will not be aware of until it’s too late. Something as minor as hitting the nozzle and changing the direction can have quite an impact on your lawn or landscape. If your nozzle is pointing towards the sidewalk and not your grass you won’t realize you have a problem until the lawn turns brown. Leaks go often undetected as well. Heads that come out of the ground on an angle will not have the same distribution pattern and may lead to browning in the missed areas.
This is the worst offense. A broken head can waste as much as 4,000 gallons of water every time it goes on. So if your sprinkler goes off at 3am you will not have a clue that you are not only loosing 4,000 gallons of water but that the rest of the zones is not being properly watered.
Not all sprinkler parts are created equal–meaning that they are not usually interchangeable. If you need to replace things like nozzles, heads, and valves you are better off going to a irrigation supply that will have parts from multiple manufactures. Doing so will also ensure that you get quality commercial grade products. If you would like to schedule a sprinkler check or any other irrigation work please feel free to calls at 214-257-8155 or email us at Sales@dallascurbappeal.com.
How to do your own water audit
The purpose of the water audit is to make full use of every drop of water and avoid making assumptions and generalizations as to when to water and how much. With a water audit you can customize an irrigation schedules based upon on catch can results, site-specific soil conditions and plant water requirements, instead of using the longtime standard recommendation of 15 minutes– 3 times a week. Now you will be able to adjust run times for individual zones based on measured precipitation rates.
Click here for a PDF of The Aggie-Hort Water Audit Data Sheet. There you will find the sheet and the steps required to do a full residential water audit. Please Note: This is not a professional sheet and cannot be used to submit audits to municipalities. The following is some general information on water audits.
Irrigation audits consist of three main activities:
- Site inspection: This is essentially a sprinkler check. For more on sprinkler checks click here. Sprinkler parts are not made to last indefinitely. Common problems are clogged or broken heads, clogged or misdirected nozzles, heads that won’t pop up, etc. You should set up a regular maintenance program for your home to be performed by you or an irrigation professional. In the state of Texas only licensed irrigators or certified irrigation technicians are allowed to repair or install sprinklers. Click here to go to the TCEQ (Texas Center for Environmental Quality) to verify licensing. Once you have repaired any issues proceed to the performance testing.
- Performance testing: This is where you are going to evaluate your systems operation to ensure that you have adequate water coverage, by setting out your catch cans (or tuna fish cans). The sprinkler components such as the heads and valves are designed to operate under certain water pressure. Too little or too much can lead to operating problems that will be apparent once you evaluate the area. A system with low pressure will not have overlapping water and may have brown sections in the lawn, where the sprays cannot reach. This may also be due to heads that were installed too far apart.
- Irrigation scheduling: Now here comes a little math. See the PDF file for the formulas and how to use the information you have gathered. Determining when to schedule your sprinklers will be based primarily on the information (percipation rates) found in the audit, however there are other factors to consider, such as the following:
- Water requirements of the plants or grass
- zones in which the plant material has mixed water requirements
- Size of the root ball when planted-and after. If you install annuals with a 2″ root system and a shrub with a 12″ root ball they will not have the same watering requirements.
- Areas that are covered by eaves or other obstructions that will not receive rain water.
Performing your own water audit is the only way to get the answer as to exactly how much to water and how often to water for your home. If you would like to have a water audit professionally done or require assistance with your sprinkler repairs you can contact us at 214-257-8155.
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How much should I water My Lawn? Specific Info.
By Gino Bargellini
Licensed Irrigator, Backflow inspector, certified water auditor
These 4- steps are designed to help you figure out whats best for your particular lawn. Everyone has different conditions. By using these simple steps you will be able to determine how efficient your system is, how often to water and how much to water to use.
1st step: Take stock of your landscape and the irrigation system
The main thing you need figure out in this step is whether you have drip or sprinkler zones that have different sun/shade conditions. If you do, it makes things a bit more difficult because you will more than likely under or over water one section on a shared zone with mixed sun/shade. You either have to find a balance where one section is not going to be too dry or too wet, amend you system to separate the zones or simply hand water the sunnier side when it needs it.
2nd Step: Perform or schedule a Sprinkler Check
Doing this will ensure that you have the proper water coverage and functioning heads and nozzles. For directions on how to do a simple sprinkler check, click here.
3rd step: Perform or Schedule a Water Audit
You can do this with the old tuna fish cans, or if you don’t fancy the idea of eating tuna for a few weeks you can always buy catch cans/rain gauges from us or make an appointment to have a certified water auditor perform an audit for you, call us at 214-257-8155 for more details. To do a true water audit takes some math and a lot of catch cans, for directions on how to do a simple water audit click here.
4th Step: Start Experimenting
Once you have finished the steps and gathered all your information you can start the scheduling. Once you have adjusted or amended your sprinklers and performed the audit you should have learn what you need to set your sprinklers. For example, you have learned that after 5 minutes your water begins to run off and that it takes 20 minutes to fill the catch can to 1″-which is all most lawns need. You will then set your controller to water your lawn for 5 minutes 2x in the morning and 2x at night or any variation of that- that will allow you to avoid run off and over watering.
Keep notes of your progress. Remember to account for rain in the scheduling process. If you buy a rain gauge and locate it near but not on your lawn you will be able to adjust your sprinklers to account for the “free water”. If you need help with this process please feel free to leave a comment below and we will do our best to help you out.
Gino Bargellini is the Vice President of Dallas Curb Appeal, a full service landscape contractor in Dallas andDFW Christmas lights, installing holiday lighting across the metroplex. LI 16405, BF 11273
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