Month: July 2013

Smart Irrigation Through A Few Simple Steps

If you’ve been following our blog posts this month (or Facebook or Twitter), you’d know that July is Smart Irrigation Month.  And for us at Orbit, smart irrigation is anything that saves you time, money, or water.  Timers do all three.  We wanted to share some simple tips that can help you optimize your timer.

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Adjusting the time your sprinklers come on is probably the biggest thing you can change.  Did you know that you could lose up to a third of your water to evaporation if you’re watering during the daytime (when the sun is out)?  So the best time is when it’s dark.  Set your timer to start your sprinklers after the sun goes down or just before it comes up.  This saves money, time, and water!

 

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Next, set up the timer to do interval watering.  Interval watering means that you break up watering time into segments.  So, for example, instead of watering your lawn for 40 minutes straight, you’d water it for two intervals of 15 minutes each.  See, soil can only absorb so much water at a given time.  After surpassing that point, every excess drop is wasted.  Orbit has a great, free tool to help you perfect your watering schedule.  By watering in intervals you will use less water because none of it is wasted.  And this saves money and water!

57099_ActionAnother idea is the rain and freeze sensor.  Newer timers all accept this handy add-on.  Placed correctly, it can tell if it’s raining or if the temperature is too cold, and shut off the system without you having to do anything.   Thus saving water and possible expensive damage.

Finally, one word of caution.  Because sprinklers run at night, people often don’t notice when there’s a problem (like a broken pipe or sprinkler head) until they get a massive water bill.  For this reason, it’s a good idea to do a test run of your system at least once a month.  Each timer is different, but most allow you to manually switch on the zones for a just a few minutes.  When you do this you’ll be able to assure each head is functioning properly, that there aren’t any geysers and that pressure is consistent along the entire line.  Do this and you’ll catch any problems early.

These tips are easy to implement in your watering.  Just check your timer’s instruction manual on proper set up.

How to Deal with Water Shortages!

“Water Shortages Conserve Water!” is not a phrase I wanted to hear as this Summer season began.  Sure, I enjoy conserving water just as much as the next person, but it has been really depressing watching my once lush, green lawn begin to yellow and die under the rays of triple digit heat.

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Due to low water yielding winter and spring seasons, many residents in northern Davis County, Utah are under mandatory and voluntary water restrictions. As Spring transitioned to Summer, these signs began to populate the local landscape.  Residents are restricted to watering each zone up to 30 minutes twice a week.  Are you experiencing this in your area too?

So, how do you keep your grass alive during conditions of drought and water restriction?  To keep with the spirit of Smart Irrigation Month, here are a few practices that will help your turf through tough some times.

  • Employ interval watering techniques
  • Use spot watering methods

Interval Watering

Interval watering is a great technique used to make your water stretch.  We may think it is wise to water our lawns as long as possible.  However, the soil can only absorb so much at a given time.  For example, “Clay can absorb 0.1 inches per hour” (clay intake rate).  Breaking a 30 minute watering cycle into two 15 minute watering cycles, one hour apart, will allow the soil to absorb more water.

Spot Watering

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If secondary water is under restriction, you may be able to save areas or ‘spots’ in your yard by running culinary water through hose-end sprinklers.  These can be helpful to water specific areas of struggling turf.  You can even automate the process by using a manual or automatic timer.  However, remember that culinary water is drinking water so be careful not to over-use.

Conclusion

When faced with water shortages and restrictions, watering times may be cut back.  As your turf begins to suffer, weeds see it as an opportunity to move in.  To help get your grass back on track determine your soil type and implement interval and spot watering.  Follow these techniques and you will have a better chance of keeping your grass green.

Smart Irrigation is About More Than Saving Water

Smart irrigation month is about more than just saving water.  It’s about saving money and time as well.  One product that we’re particularly proud of is our Eco-lock and PVC-lock fittings.  This ingenious product saves so much time.  Fittings no longer require primer and glue.  Just press the pipe into the fitting and it locks into place.  Don’t worry, it’s very durable, able to withstand over 1200 pounds of pressure.  Considering the average yard has 50-100 PSI, you’re good.

Eco-Lock Fitting

Eco-Lock Fitting

PVC-Lock Fitting

PVC-Lock Fitting

This is great whether you’re doing a new installation or if you’re just making repairs.  The fittings disconnect with the help of a special tool we make, so additions or changes are a breeze.  It works with traditional PVC or poly pipe, so you can add it on.

PVC Lock Removal Tool

PVC Lock Removal Tool

But what else does eco-lock and PVC-lock do?  They help the environment by keeping those harsh chemicals found in glue and primer out.

Windowsill Herb Garden is Easy and Fun

For smart irrigation month we decided to put together a small planter to grow herbs (they’re the legal kind, don’t worry).  Herbs are a great plant to grow.  We’re growing ours outdoors, but they also do well indoors.  They smell good, grow fast, and are great for cooking.

To speed up watering, we decided to install some soaker hosing.  Ours hooks to a hose and is expandable, but these could easily be linked to an existing sprinkler system and other drip lines.

Here are the supplies we’ll use.

IMG_0003We’ve got 18 inches of ½ inch distribution tubing.  A 50-foot roll of ¼-inch soaker tubing (though we’ll only be using about 2-3 feet).  A ¼-inch barb tee.  ¼-inch barb coupling.  Two ¼-inch barb elbows (not pictured).  A ½-inch drip lock end cap adaptor (this makes the box expandable). A 3-in-1 drip lock faucet adapter.  Four ¼-inch dripper stakes to hold the soaker tubing in place.  Three ½-inch tubing straps to secure the tubing to the planter box.  A punch tool.  And finally, a tubing cutter.  A hammer was also necessary but you may not need this.

First, we attached the 3-in-1 adapter to our ½-inch tubing and measured it on the back of the box.

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Next, we cut the tubing to size.

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We then secured ½-inch tubing with our tubing straps, nailing them to the planter.

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Here’s what it should look like:

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This finished, we began attaching our ¼-inch tubing, making a small elbow where we’d attach our soaker tubing.

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Winding the soaker tubing around the outside of the planter, we connected it back to where we began with the barbed tee.  This loop system isn’t necessary, but does eliminate need for a plug.

Finally, we planted our seeds.

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We then took it to our hose and tested it out.  It runs great.

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For us, this was the ideal solution because we move the box indoors every night.  For those whose planters will stay in a permanent location, the portability isn’t a necessary step.  Furthermore, connecting it to an existing underground systems drip line, you could have the boxes watered by a timer.  There’re plenty of routes to take, so experiment and have fun.  We’ll keep you updated throughout the summer as our herbs progress.