Month: June 2014

Conquering Wind in the Garden

The best laid plans of Mice and Men, often go awry. 

So often we hear from customers who are having performance issues with their sprinkler systems.  Everything looks great on paper.  They layout, installation, and operation are all top notch.  But they find their lawns and gardens are not getting a consistent flow of water because of one enemy; one that is unavoidable and impossible to predict: Mother Nature.

67331_actionFor example, I recently spoke with a customer from southern California, who, for most of year, doesn’t have many problems.  He recently purchased a new home and his yard is not getting the water it needs.  Because of his location, he has greater than normal exposure to seasonal Santa Ana winds, with evening and night time winds much higher than the rest of the region.   In case you didn’t know, wind and sprinklers are not a good mix.  Sprinkler nozzles are especially ill suited for windy areas because the water gets blown all over and you never get the consistent watering they’re designed to give.  So, if you live somewhere with similar problems, check out these tips for solving the problem.

In many places of the yard drip will be the best option, as it has no chance of being blown to and fro.  And it has the added benefit of being more efficient than sprinklers generally.  But you can’t really water the lawn with drip.  Yes, there are subsurface drip systems available, but they are relatively new technology and still have a long way to go before they’re ready for the average consumer.  That, and who wants to dig up their lawn to put one in?

For lawns it’s better to use a combination of better sprinklers and better timing.

First for sprinklers.  Gear drives, such as the Voyager II or Saturn III are great selections.  These work well for windy areas because their powerful stream of water isn’t as susceptible to wind and traditional pop-up nozzles.  Plus, the angle of the stream can be adjusted with low-angle nozzles, and that’s good, because wind increases the higher up you go (even just a few feet).

55037_act-3_080207If you have pop-ups already installed then changing the sprinkler system for gear drives might be too time consuming.  In that case the eco-stream rotator is a great solution.  The eco-stream shoots small, rotating streams of water instead of fixed diffusion of traditional pop-up nozzles.  These streams are much more resistant to wind.  Plus, there’s an added efficiency because the eco-stream rotators can be up to 30 per cent more efficient than traditional pop-up nozzles.

Next, what about timing?   Obviously you want to water when it’s least windy.  Luckily, for most locations that is at night and early morning hours.  Of course, it may still be windy, but just not as much, and that may be all the advantage you need to get extra efficiency out of your system and provide uniform watering for your lawn.

Other tips are to take advantage of lawn slopes, using runoff to your advantage.  Also, zone areas more susceptible to wind separate from those that aren’t.  Those with windy conditions might need more watering time, but by separating them you won’t overwater other parts of your lawn.

If you live in a place that has seasonal wind changes, a farmer’s almanac or even just a quick internet search, can give you an idea of when the windy season picks up so you’ll be ready to make adjustments as things change.

Orbit Sprinkler System in Parade of Homes

Orbit has sponsored the sprinkler system, landscape lighting, and temperature control (thermostats) of a home in the Utah Valley Parade of Homes.

Orbit-Parade-of-Homes-SprinklersRemember back on May 21 of this year, we added a post about a hands-on installation that our team performed?? Well, this is it. The sprinkler system went in with ease (thanks to PVC-Lock and Eco-Lock), the landscape lighting is beautiful, and the thermostat isn’t just a box that controls temperature, it’s masterpiece in style and function.

The house is ready for touring.  The yard is landscaped with sod and beautiful plants and trees and the house is furnished attractively.

You better hurry, tomorrow is the last day of the Parade. Come check out the house and see what Orbit has done and what our products can do for your home!

The home we sponsored is home number 17:

1639 S 900 E
Lehi, UT 84043

To purchase tickets and get more info, go to http://www.uvparade.com/.

Adventures in Lawn Maintenance

This last weekend, my family and I visited our beautiful lakeside cabin to do a little maintenance and get some R&R.  Because the cabin is located in mountainous valley of higher elevation, summer tends to break a bit later there.  Even in mid-June we were still getting night-time temperatures in the high 40’s and the days were in the low 70’s.  So while this may not translate perfectly into what much of the rest of the country is experiencing, we still did have to do some lawn maintenance and thought I’d share a few quick tips—many of which you may be aware of—just so you can get that perfect lawn.

ALM2The first thing was the sprinkler audit.  Our cabin does have an underground sprinkler system, but because it was put in nearly twenty years ago, a lot of the parts are starting to show their age.  Most are still in perfect working order, so there’s no need to change them out, but every once in a while there’ll be a problem.  So each time we’re up there we like to run the sprinklers for a few minutes each station and make sure it’s all running well.  Turns out there were a few problems.  One head wasn’t working and just dribbled water.  Using the medium area sprinkler wrench, we removed the sprinkler, finding it was clogged.  We cleaned it out and it was running perfectly.

An ugly dry spot was developing and we wondered if the weed killer we’d sprayed a few weeks earlier had trickled to the grass.  But when we ran the stations we found the two heads meant to water this area were being blocked by tall, thick grass and thus not spraying the full distance.  The simple solution to this was a couple spray guards.  And we noticed our old impact heads weren’t getting the distance we were used to.  We made some quick cleaning and things seem to be running okay.

Another thing we did was put down some combination weed killer and fertilizer.  Many around the country are doing the same right now and it’s good to remember that your lawn needs plenty of water after you put that down or else it could burn up, even in cooler climates.

Our lawn mower blade also needed attention, as it had dulled over the previous year and was causing split ends.  Shredded, split end grass looks brown on top and is more prone to contract disease.  Professionals can do the best job, but we just used a sharpening file and were able to get the blade like new, with great, clean cuts.  We’ve made a goal to stay on top of this and perform the manufacturer recommended three sharpening’s this season.

10 Orbit Products You Didn’t Know You Wanted

We’re constantly getting ideas for new products.  Each comes from a specific problem a customer is having and, when we can’t solve with our existing product line, we go to the drawing board.  Here are ten Orbit products you didn’t know you wanted.

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The Orbit Emergency Tool is smart to have around in case of a earthquake, fire, water main break or other natural disasters.  When precious seconds count, you want a tool that will stand out, day or night.  This tool is made in high visibility yellow plastic that is also glow in the dark.  It can shut off all standard gas and water mains, as well as open meter covers.  Each tool is clearly labeled, so you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for.

 

 

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The Orbit Head Adjustment Tool is perfect for yards with a variety of sprinkler heads, be the pop-ups, gear drives, impact or gravity heads.  This 16-in-1 tool has just about everything you’ll need to give your sprinklers the tune up they need.

 

 

 

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Along with the Head Adjustment Tool is the Pop-up Tool.  This simple device lifts and holds pop-up sprinklers in place so you can remove, adjust or replace nozzles, without the sprinkler stem falling back in.

 

 

 

54118_action2_600Some gardens have high-traffic areas which routinely result in broken sprinkler heads.  The Hard-Top sprinklers were created for just that problem.  Made of durable metal, these sprinklers are nearly indestructible to foot traffic, machinery like mowers and edgers and even vehicles.

 

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Orbit Catch Cups, together with our companion app wateringschedule.com, allow you to maximize efficiency and get the perfect watering schedule for your lawn.  Simply arrange the cups, run your system and record the results.  Then enter the results on the web app and it will tell you how efficient your system is and give a full, 12 month watering plan.

 

 

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The Sod Cutter is great for keeping grass from blocking or clogging up your sprinkler heads, while still giving a clean look to your lawn.  Place it over the head and twist, cutting away excess grass.

 

 

 

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If you’re garden has a lot of drip, the Punch Gun tool is great for getting perfectly sized holes without risking damage to the distribution line in the process.  Designer to work with .690-.710 distribution line, it gives you a clean hole that will then fasten a watertight connection with ¼-inch fittings.

 

 

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And speaking of flower beds, the Shrub Head Manifold gives you a 2-in-1 capability to have both a shrub spray and a drip line.  Attach to any standard ½-inch riser, then equip with ¼-inch drip line and a shrub spray.

 

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Hanging plants can really make porches and balconies pop, but they are difficult to water, often leaving a mess in the process.  But with the Orbit Flex Mist, you can have beautiful hanging plants along with the ease of an automated drip watering.  These are have an adjustable flow knob as well as flexible tubing that lets you twist them into place.

 

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If you use a hose to do anything you know how risky it can be to your flowers when positioning the hose.  The Hose Guides protect flower beds, neatly guiding the hose along a set path.  They go into the grass with corrosion resistant zinc spikes and are made of durable plastic.

 

Summer Lawn Maintenance

School is ending, the forecast is clearing and insanely hot weather is right around the corner. Here are a few ideas to keep your lawn healthy during the scorching summer months.

Summer Lawn 3Adjust your mower. A general rule of thumb is to keep your blade at three inches (or slightly higher). This allows the grass to develop deeper roots and maintain moisture.

Limit lawn treatments. Fertilizing, seeding and thatch removal are best done during the fall or spring. Instead, focus on keeping foot and vehicle traffic off your lawn during the hot months.

Watch your watering. During the summer, water deeply and less frequently. Also, try to water as early as possible to reduce evaporation and prevent fungal growth.

Know when to admit defeat. If your lawn goes brown and dormant, resist the temptation to douse it with ridiculous amounts of water. At that point, you’re better off leaving it alone and letting it recover naturally in the fall.

Hopefully these few simple suggestions help you keep your lawn green and lush this summer season. If you’re looking for more ideas, view our sprinkler and drip irrigation systems at orbitonline.com/products.

Managing Vegetable Gardens

About this time of year most people have their vegetables planted, whether they be in beds or grow boxes.  Now comes the task of managing these plants so they yield the crops you want.  Taking care of a vegetable garden isn’t too difficult.  A few simple steps will allow you to have healthy plants with as little effort as possible.

CarrotsSince we’ve already set up the drip or spray irrigation system for the plants, they watering should be taken care of.  However, as the season changes and weather gets warmer—and sometimes dryer—you’ll need to adjust your watering output as well.  That can be done in a manner of ways.  The easiest is probably to adjust the amount of time the sprinklers run to get more water on the plants.  You can do this by changing the program timer, or even simpler, if your timer has a budget feature you may just move that up a few clicks.  Signs of too little water are excessively dry soil, dried or discolored leaves, wilting stems and roots growing near the surface.  As with most plants, it’s better to water deep than to water frequently.  Deep watering promotes healthy roots, and thus healthy plants and more veggies.

Next, getting plants nutrients by using either fertilizer and plant food, or simply composting the area for a more organic approach.  Don’t overdo it.  An inch or two is usually more than enough.  And while cultivating it into the soil is tempting, you might accidentally hurt the plant’s root system, so just leave it on the surface.

Finally, check for diseases and insects.  The signs are pretty noticeable: chewed up leaves, vegetables with holes burrowed into them and many other gross things.  Pesticides are the easiest way but some may be aiming for organic vegetables.  In this case there are plenty of natural ways to prevent and control insects in your garden.

Staying on top of these things usually doesn’t take much time and the results are well worth it.  We invite you to share some of your tips and success stories with us via social media, via Twitter or Facebook.  And keep your questions coming as we’re always looking for new ways to help our customers get the most out of their homes and gardens.