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.