Month: March 2015

The Challenge of Beating the Drought

There you are.  Spring is just around the corner.  You can already feel it in the air and see it in the trees and flowers.  It’s exciting and you can’t wait to get your yard up and running again.  But there’s a problem.  One that’s been going on for a long time.  Drought.

The biggest market for any home and garden company is California.  Unfortunately, the Golden State is entering its fourth year of low water levels, and that has forced the government to implement even further watering restrictions, some of which are quite drastic.

But not only do we want to help you avoid fines, but also keep your yard looking as well as it can during the tough drought time, while also doing your part to conserve water, all while conserving your time, too.

Catch cup greenOptimize

The first step is to figure out what water your yard really needs and make that your goal.  Most homeowners significantly overwater their yards.  And because irrigation is often the highest user of water in many homes, this can really make an impact.

But how to optimize?  Start with your lawn.  Figure out what kind of grass and soil you have, then run a catch cup test to find out how much water your lawn actually needs.  Most likely it’s less than you think.  From there, make sure all your sprinklers are working correctly.  This means checking for leaks or broken heads, but even more, making sure you’ve got the right nozzle for the job and that they are adjusted appropriately.  Don’t water the sidewalk.  This is wasteful and with new regulations, could result in heavy fines.

Watering doesn’t stop with the lawn.  Our gardens use a lot of water too.  Whether its flowers, trees or fruits & vegetables, determine how much water these need and try to get to that and no more.  The good news is all these things can benefit from drip irrigation, which will allow you to eliminate thousands of gallons of water waste.  Drip is easy to install, doesn’t cost too much and is simple to maintain.  It also cuts down on weeds, because you put the water only where you want it.  Once it’s in place you’ll see massive savings in water and money.

Maintain

Check up on your sprinklers often—more than you commonly would—because one broken head could result in thousands of gallons of water waste.

69520_ActionA green lawn can be had with less water.  Three things get you on this path.  First, let it grow.  A longer lawn needs less water.  The longer blades of grass provide more shade for the roots and store more water.  Also, cut the lawn with a sharp blade to avoid tearing the blades.  Second, make sure the water you do give it has maximum impact.  Water when it’s dark, that way the water doesn’t evaporate and has time to soak in.  Finally, let the water soak by watering in cycles.  Three 5-minute cycles (each separated by a 15-minute soak break) will do more than one 15-minute cycle.

The Nuclear Option

Even after all these steps have been followed, the crisis might still continue.  And though we hate to say it, the final option could be to eliminate all excess watering.  Flowers and a green lawn are wonderful to have, but they are a luxury and with things being as bad as they are, the only hope we might have is to forgo these luxuries for a time.  That could mean planting species that use less water and are native to desert environments, or not planting anything at all and leaving the flowerbeds empty.

Droughts present a lot of problems for our dreams of a beautiful yard, there’s no getting around it.  But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible and with these tips, you’ll be able to work with Mother Nature.

If it fits you could say something about less weeds w drip and associated time savings.

Quick Fixes with Orbit PVC-Lock

Weathersense Rain

PVC-Lock isn’t just great for installing an underground sprinkler system, it’s also the perfect weapon for the inevitable repair.  Come springtime, many home owners will see a broken pipe or two.  Maybe the system wasn’t blown out properly or extra water got in there somewhere and froze, bursting the pipe.  Repairing these types of breaks used to be a muddy mess, lots of digging, waiting for the mess to dry before you could repair with toxic glue and primer.  With PVC-Lock you can now have these repairs done literally in minutes.

pvcslideSpecifically to solve the problems of breaks, two new products were developed for PVC-Lock: the Slide Repair Fitting and the Flexible Repair Fitting.  Each one tackles common breaks and the problems associated with them.

Those familiar with sprinkler systems are also familiar with slide repair fittings.  PVC-Lock Slide Repair Fittings function in the same manner, but with two important benefits: no glue and no waiting.  Once installed they’re instantly ready to be used.  You don’t need to wait for the glue and primer to dry.

pvcflex2And the PVC-Lock Flexible Repair Fitting?  Sometimes a pipe breaks not because of freezing water, but because of growing roots or shifting earth.  The Flexible Repair Fitting works great to get you around, under or over any of these.  Plus the flexible pipe means future changes won’t cause the same problem again.  All with no waiting and no glue.

All these fittings come in ½”, ¾” and 1” sizes, so we’ve got you covered.

Design Your Sprinkler System to Shine

As we approach the spring season, many homeowners are already thinking of sprinkler systems.  If you’re someone who’s just moved into a new home and needs to put in an underground sprinkler system, or if you’re someone that just has repairs to make, Orbit’s free Online Sprinkler System Designer is the perfect tool to help you get started.

We get a lot of calls every spring from customers using our tool.  While customers are very satisfied, we have some tips and suggestions that will make the experience even better!

One recommendation—and this tends to be true of all computer programs—is to save a copy right away.  We’ve all heard of people typing up some important report, only to have a computer failure and lose it all.  With Orbit’s free Online Sprinkler System Designer you’ll be creating something you don’t want to lose and it can be frustrating if the internet crashed and everything disappears.  Start by saving your plan early and you’ll be protected.  The Sprinkler Designer auto-saves every few minutes, but you need to take the initial step.

Next, practice!  Taking a few minutes to do a practice design will familiarizes yourself with all the functions, preventing slowdowns when you get to the actual design of your yard.  There’s no limit on how many plans you can create, so don’t worry about creating dozens (or even hundreds) of plans.right hand tools

The right hand tool panel is often overlooked, but can really help, especially with yards that have a lot of different or unusual sections.  Here’s a short description of each of the functions:

  • Measure—this lets you measure parts of the drawing to make sure they match real life. It can also help you figure out how big parts of your yard are, without having to measure them over and over.
  • Undo/Redo—these are probably pretty obvious, but just in case, they let you step backwards if you make a mistake, or step forwards if you want to bring something you’ve deleted back.
  • Add label—you can label different parts of your property for future reference.
  • Snap to grid—when snap to grid is enabled, the shapes you draw will auto-adjust to make themselves square and even. But if you have a section that is not quite square, you can turn this feature off, giving you more freedom to draw.
  • Opacity—if you’ve imported an image, you’ll have the option to adjust opacity, to make the image appear lighter or darker.

shape toolsNow, what about the drawing itself?  There’s some tips here, too.  When an object is selected, there are four little icons around the outside.  Here is what each of them do:

  • The X deletes the shape.
  • The diagonal arrows expand or contract the shape while keeping dimensions equal.
  • The padlock locks objects to the grid.
  • The right angle arrows allow you to rotate the shape 0-360 degrees.

And what about curved edges?  Instead of drawing multipoint lines, draw a straight line and then click and drag the green dot. This will create a curved edge.

 

The steps in the left navigation also have some incredible features.  The system is designed to recognize any non-watered featured as an obstruction, so placing them in your plan will tell the program to design around the object.

Trees and shrubs are seen as part of the lawn and get no special treatment.  Hedges and flowerbeds, however, do have specific options that allow them to be watered with the lawn, with drip or shrub sprays, or not to be watered at all.curved edges

The special watered features let you specify the way certain parts of your yard are watered and what type of sprinklers are used.

Our free sprinkler designer puts the power of design into the hands of the homeowner, saving potentially thousands of dollars and educating along the way.  Over the spring and summer we’ll be highlighting more features and we’d love to hear about your success with our designer on Twitter and Facebook.