Where to get help                                                           Many professionals can help you             Fa...
Great gardens                                                    for a new era                                            ...
DesignElements of                                     8 Water-saving                                                basics...
Design                                                 5 great                                                 water-wise ...
DesignPlants for                                      7 great                                                water-wiseall...
DesignLow-waterplanting plans                                                                                             ...
DesignPermeable                                       7 ways to use                                                porous ...
IrrigationEfficientwatering 101Learn about your soil,watch your plants, and getthe right toolsWhen determining how you sho...
Irrigation                                                                                                                ...
Easy Water-Wise Gardening - San Diego, California
Easy Water-Wise Gardening - San Diego, California
Easy Water-Wise Gardening - San Diego, California
Easy Water-Wise Gardening - San Diego, California
Easy Water-Wise Gardening - San Diego, California
Easy Water-Wise Gardening - San Diego, California
Easy Water-Wise Gardening - San Diego, California
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Easy Water-Wise Gardening - San Diego, California

  1. 1. Where to get help Many professionals can help you Favorite websites design and implement a water- bewaterwise.com Low-water landscape Easy water-wise conserving landscape. Before deciding design ideas, irrigation advice, and on anyone, get several bids and talk links to local water agencies. with previous clients. ccwater.com/conserve Contra Costa Local water districts usually offer Water District’s website provides infor- a wealth of information, including mation on water conservation, land- gardening recommended plant lists, watering scape design, and maintenance. guidelines, and water-saving tips. irrigation.org Information on smart Landscape architects design entire controllers and efficient irrigation, and outdoor environments, from plantings tips for hiring an irrigation contractor. to structures like patios and decks. irrigationessentials.com Information on Licensed and university-trained, they irrigation equipment and efficient can provide the whole package, from design to installation. Or they can help watering. www.nrcs.usda.gov Tips for backyard Advice and design ideas in specific trouble spots, such as steep slopes or areas with poor drainage. conservation. savingwater.org The Saving Water Part- for the 21st century.smart Gardening ideasSubscribe to Sunset magazine for landscaping inspiration Landscape contractors are trained and licensed in methods of earth nership’s website provides water- conserving information for the From the editors of  Aand gardening advice tailored to your climate in eachmonthly issue. Visit sunset.com or call 800/777-0117. moving, construction, irrigation, and Northwest. planting. They are very useful for diffi- snwa.org The Southern Nevada Water cult projects. Authority’s website provides informa- Landscape or garden designers tion on low-water plants, landscaping, have varying degrees of education but and irrigation. are usually not licensed. The focus of sunset.com Sunset’s website offers their work is likely to be residential landscape ideas, planting plans, and gardens. Often they work in conjunc- detailed information about local tion with a landscape contractor. climate zones. Irrigation consultants are water.ca.gov California Department of usually licensed contractors associated Water Resources’ website provides with an irrigation-supply store (another information on drought in California, good source of information). They can unthirsty plants, and efficient irrigation. help design and install efficient irriga-Use these companion books from Sunset to help you tion systems.garden successfully in your climate zone. Available at Local nurseries can offer usefulyour local bookseller and home and garden center. information and assistance in choosing plants and irrigation equipment. Many have design services.Sunset Plant FinderLooking for the right low-waterplant for your climate and gardeningstyle? Go to sunset.com/plantfinder A Thomas J. Storyand search by type, growing condi-tions, and color. Copyright © 2009 Sunset Publishing Corporation ER-64132   Sunset Easy Water-Wise Gardening   1
  2. 2. Great gardens for a new era In the West, water is as precious as gold. Most of our rainfall comes in winter, yet many garden plants need irrigation in summer, during our driest months. Seasonal droughts, groundwater pollu- tion, and population growth stress this valuable resource. If we are to have enough water in the future, we must avoid wasting water in our homes and gardens today. Of the water Westerners use at home, about 50 percent goes to gardens. So the most important place to start a conserva- tion program is right outside our doors. Fortunately, water conservation doesn’t mean settling for a barren landscape; it means practicing good gardening. Choos- ing plants well adapted to your climate, improving your soil, watering efficiently, and taking advantage of the latest irriga- tion technology all help save water. Plants that require less water are widely available at nurseries. The Sunset Western Garden Book, Sunset Western Land- scaping, and the online Sunset Plant Finder tool (sunset.com/plantfinder) can provide you with lists and plans. In this booklet, we offer many ways to save water in your garden, including watering strategies based on soil type, smart use of watering devices, and advice about selecting an efficient irrigation system for your garden. Contents A gorgeous mix of 4 Low-water landscape design low-water plants, Elements of a dry garden, plants including California fescue, carex, catmint, for all climates, planting plans, erigeron, ‘Garnet’ permeable surfaces penstemon, lavender, 4 1 Efficient irrigation Mexican bush sage, ‘Morning Light’ Manual watering, sprinklers, drip miscanthus, and systems, choosing the right system rosemary. 6 2 Water savings Mulch basics, rainwater harvesting, putting it all together 2 3 Where to get help Saxon Holt Professionals to consult and websites to browse2   Sunset Easy Water-Wise Gardening   3
  3. 3. DesignElements of 8 Water-saving basics 5. Upgrade your irrigation system Adda low-water Follow these guidelines for elements such as smart a water-efficient garden controllers connected to 1. IMPROVE THE SOIL weather stations andlandscape Routinely cultivate the soil in your vegetable and annual beds, incorporat- new, highly efficient sprinklers or drip emitters to make precision water-A dry garden can be as ing organic matter such ing much easier. (Seeinviting as any other as compost. Doing so improves the soil’s ability pages 16–21.) 6. WATER DEEPLY IrrigateDrought is a fact of life in the West. to retain moisture. Most established plants thor- landscape plants (trees, oughly but infrequentlyIt’s part of the natural weather cycle. shrubs, and native plants to encourage roots toThats why water conser­vation should be a especially) establish grow downward; they willpart of every Westerner’s lifestyle. Happily, faster when planted in be buffered from the wet-a well-designed water-wise land­scape can native soils without the dry cycle typical of the addition of amendments. upper soil area and maybe lush and colorful and will make your If your soil is sandy or tap into groundwater.home a beautiful and inviting place. rocky, you may need to 7. IRRIGATE EFFI- Start by leaving more areas unplanted add compost. CIENTLY Make sure yourthan you would if you lived in a wetter 2. plant in the right watering practices and place Locate unthirsty devices are as efficient asclimate—a big water savings right off the possible. Water plants plants where they’ll gettop. Make the paths generous and put the sun (or shade) expo- only when needed, not bygravel under seating areas instead of sure and soil drainage the calendar or clock.planting a groundcover. Use decomposed they need. Group plants Water at night, when that have similar water evaporation is muchgranite in place of thirsty lawn grass. Then lower and the air gener- needs so none gets tooplant the remaining spaces with ornamen- little or too much water. ally calmer. Tightentals that are adapted to arid climates. 3. Shrink the lawn faucets so they don’tFinally, to highlight water’s revered status Most lawn grasses need leak. Avoid runoff and enormous amounts of wasteful overspray.in the unthirsty garden, add a few traces water to stay green and 8. MULCH Cover bareof it, some real, some illusory: a fountain lush. Reduce your lawn’s ground around each plantthat barely trickles, a dry streambed that size, or—unless you need with a 3-inch layer of it for kids to play on— mulch to help conserveawaits the next downpour, or a lovely urn. eliminate it altogether. soil moisture, suppress 4. CONTROL WEEDS weeds, and keep the soil These garden intruders cooler; renew annually. steal water needed by Organic types such as desirable plants. Regu- bark chips, shredded larly hoe or pull them out bark, or compost improve when they’re young, or the soil as they break use landscape fabrics and down, and encourage mulches to discourage beneficial microbes. (See growth. pages 26–27.) No lawn Drip irrigation Permeable paving Xeric plants Mulch Using a tapestry of groundcovers Low-flow irrigation is the most Strips of elfin thyme and Armeria Native and Mediterranean plants, A thick layer of mulch helps preserve instead of thirsty turf to landscape efficient way to water plants— maritima dissect the flagstone paving such as the manzanita, yarrow, soil moisture. But it can also enhance Steven A. Gunther the front yard saves precious water. there’s no runoff or evaporation. leading to the front door, soaking up Euphorbia, and Kniphofia pictured, design, creating negative space that design Jeffrey Gordon Smith It’s also the healthiest system for rainfall and directing excess to the are well adapted to the West: They makes plant groupings or individual Landscape Architecture, Los Osos, plants because the water penetrates yard on either side. require little water and maintenance, specimens stand out. CA (jgsdesigns.com) deeply into the soil, encouraging and their blue-green, gray-green plant roots to do the same. foliage looks right in our light.4   Sunset Easy Water-Wise Gardening   5
  4. 4. Design 5 great water-wise detailsLow water, 1. BRIGHT COLORS Yellow columbine, red valerian, and lavenderhigh style catmint bloom amid a sea of mown buffalo grass in a New Mexico garden. ACombine flowering and cluster of aspen trees provides light shade forfoliage plants for a colorful, the columbine.all-season garden 2. FOLIAGE TEXTURE Strong architecturalWater-thrifty gardens deliver all the details set the stage forbold forms and colors of traditional land- this Seattle garden filledscapes, but with minimal resources and a with billowy grasses andlot less effort. As with any garden, they perennials. Along the gravel path, giant featherincorporate all the elements necessary for grass (Stipa gigantea) andoutdoor living and entertaining: Paths and maiden grass createpatios to give the garden form and direc- clouds of strappy foliagetion. Arbors and trellises to help divide the beside catnip and Span-garden into rooms, and to create shade.Benches and outdoor furnishings for ish lavender. 3. BOLD SHAPES Golden barrel cactus appear to 2 3comfort. But that’s where the similarity to march along the top of a rock wall between fine-conventional landscapes ends. textured purple Dalea The gardens pictured here are designed greggii plants. An Agaveto thrive on little more than rainfall, but weberi adds drama behindthey offer many other advantages beyond them, while blue palo verde and desert iron-conserving moisture. Drought-tolerant wood trees soften theplants don’t require much, if any, fertilizer, house walls. clockwise from top left: saxon holt, andrew drake, d.a. horchner/design workshop, bob wigand, saxon holtso they tend to grow at a rate that’s easy 4. LUSH PLANTINGS In ato manage without constant pruning. San Diego garden, a dense border on a slope isBecause they produce less green waste, filled with large nativethey contribute less to landfills. In addi- boulders. From the fronttion, many drought-tolerant plants, espe- are bright green aeonium,cially Western natives, attract birds and yellow pincushion (Leucospermum), yellowbutterflies, which come to dine on insectpests or to sip nectar. Cotula coronopifolia, varie- gated Furcraea foetida 1 It’s possible to have a garden that’s ‘Mediopicta’, and a red-both water-conserving and beautiful, with flowering ivy geranium. 5. TWIST ON TRADITIONplenty of lush foliage and a generous dose A suburban front yard inof seasonal flowers. All of the gardens Long Beach, CA, plantedpictured are rich tapestries of color and with dark green Carex pansa, is watered onlymotion, thanks to their diverse palettes of once a week in summercarefully chosen natives, perennials, orna- and mowed just fourmental grasses, shrubs, or succulents. times a year. Water-wise gardens take a bit moreplanning than ordinary landscapes, butover time they offer significant savings inlabor costs—and, of course, water. 5 46   Sunset Easy Water-Wise Gardening   7
  5. 5. DesignPlants for 7 great water-wiseall climates plantings 1. LOW SPREADING Cean- othus griseus ‘Kurt Zadnik’Choose ornamentals that is a colorful groundcover that grows 2 to 3 feet tallthrive in your region and 6 feet wide or more. Spring flowers are deepWhile local natives are best suited to blue.most sites, other good choices include 2. WATER-WISE ANDdrought-tolerant plants from all corners of FIRE-WISE In a San 2 3the world. Some of the most water-wise Diego–area garden, spaces between bouldersoptions are native to the Southwest are filled with a deep pinkdeserts. Others are from the five Mediter- rose-scented geranium,ranean climate regions—California, the white nutmeg-scentedMediterranean basin, South Africa, south- geranium, and purple sweet-pea shrub.western Australia, and the central coast of 3. wildlife magnetChile—where rains are spare and summers Coneflower (Echinacea) isare warm and dry. a tough perennial with Many of these plants share characteris- daisy-like flowers in pink, lavender-purple, yellow,tics that help them survive periods of orange, and white. Beesintense heat and low rainfall. They may and butterflies love tohave gray or velvety leaves that reflect visit the beehive-shaped centers for nectar; finchesheat; succulent leaves, stems, and roots visit later for seeds.that store water; or needlelike leaves 4. EASY TO GROW Hornedwhose small surface area limits the poten- poppy (Glaucium flavum)tial for water loss. Or they may go dormant produces rosettes of crin- kly gray-green leavesduring the hottest months of the year. topped by orange to Water-wise plants have different bright yellow blooms.degrees of drought tolerance. Plants that 5. BRIGHT BERRIES Tall (usually to 10 feet), dense clockwise from top left: bob wigand (2), Steven A. Gunther, bob wigand (3), jim mccauslandthrive on 30 inches of rain in the Northwest, Toyon puts on a brightfor instance, will wither in a Southwest show in winter, when redgarden where the average rainfall is 10inches or less. Do your homework before berries envelop the shrub. 6. BOLD FOLIAGE Clouds of lime-colored flowers 1 4finalizing plant choices, then group plants on Euphorbia characiasinto zones by their water needs. Place wulfenii contrast withthirstier (and often showier) plants near- chocolate-hued Aeoniumest the house or in other high-visibility arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ tospots, less thirsty plants in the background. create drama in a San Clemente, CA, garden.Make sure your irrigation plan supports 7. SHAPE AND TEXTUREeach zone independently of the others. Mediterranean-climate Avoid the mistake of thinking that some plants fill a garden border in a rain shadow alongtypes of plants never need watering. All Washington’s Pugetplants, native or not, need regular, deep Sound. They include Asterirrigations through the first year to help ‘Mönch’ and Schizostylistheir roots become established. Some need coccinea ‘Oregon Sunset’, framed against ‘Goldmoisture into the second year, but by then, Sword’ New Zealand flax.many do fine with only an occasional deep Behind is tall, airy Verbenawatering. A bit of research and consulting bonariensis.with your local nursery or cooperative 7 6 5extension service will help you figure outhow much water your plants need.8   Sunset Easy Water-Wise Gardening   9
  6. 6. DesignLow-waterplanting plans E f gBrighten a garden bed with Dherbs for your kitchen or i bberries and flowers for birds aThe best plants for low-water gardens h c jnot only enliven the landscape and thriveon little water once established, they have Chives Lemon thymeother benefits as well. Woody perennial Planting area: 8 x 6herbs such as rosemary, sage, andthyme—all native to the Mediterranean Pocket-size herb sampler Plant listregion—produce leaves that can be used Just 48 square feet is space enough for a diverse assortment of A. Chives (Allium F. Rose (‘Sunsprite’); 1fresh or dried to flavor meat, soups, and scented herbs plus a compatible fragrant rose. Seven of the nine schoenoprasum); 3 G. Rosemary (Rosmari- B. French tarragon nus officinalis); 1stews. In beds and borders, they combine herbs have culinary uses, making this planting especially appeal- (Artemisia H. Common sagewell with blooming perennials such as ing to cooks (particularly if it’s located near a kitchen door). The dracunculus); 4 (Salvia officinalisblue-flowered catmint and sunny yellow two nonculinary choices—lavender cotton and catmint—add to C. Catmint (Nepeta x ‘Icterina’); 1patio roses. the plot’s beauty with their soft textures and equally soft gray- faassenii); 3 I. Lavender cotton D. Sweet marjoram (Santolina chamaecypa- Unthirsty shrubs and perennials that green to gray-white leaf color. In fact, much of this garden’s (Origanum majorana, rissus ‘Nana’); 3pump out flowers, berries, or seeds invite charm derives from its varied foliage colors and textures; conspic- Majorana hortensis); 1 J. Lemon thymeall kinds of birds to your garden, bringing it uous flowers appear chiefly on the chives, catmint, lavender E. Oregano (Origanum (Thymus x citriodorus) Catmint Common sage vulgare); 2 ‘Aureus’; 1alive with beauty and motion. (Birds also cotton, rosemary, and rose.feast on pest insects.) You can re-create one of the borderspictured at right in your own garden. Thebest time to plant is early fall, before rains opposite, clockwise from top left: david cavagnaro, thomas j. story (3), ben woolsey, claire curran,come (they’ll help irrigate the new trans- c bplants for free). Locate both beds in full asun. The bright herb sampler is designed hto fit a small (8- by 6 -foot) space. The f gbirdscape is backed with three billowy f norman a. plate (2); illustrations, from top: lois lovejoy (2), erin o’toole (2)shrubs that need more room to sprawl. e i The total number of each plant needed dis indicated after each plant in the “Plant g cLists,” far right. Blanket flower Black-eyed Susan Planting area: 25 x 18 Western birdscape Plant list This small planting design is suited to mild-winter areas of Cali- A. Elaeagnus x F. Black-eyed Susan ebbingei; 1 (Rudbeckia fulgida sulli- fornia and the Southwest deserts. Though it lacks trees and a B. Firethorn (Pyracan- vantii ‘Goldsturm’); 11 watering hole, it offers most of the inducements that birds crave: tha coccinea ‘Kasan’; 1 G. Fountain grass berries, seeds, and shelter. The irresistible lure—as legions of C. Lantana (Pennisetum gardeners have come to know—is the yearly crop of firethorn ‘Radiation’; 3+ setaceum); 6 D. Heavenly H. Blanket flower berries, but the garden’s feathered patrons will also feast on the bamboo (Nandina (Gaillardia x grandi- fruits of lantana, heavenly bamboo, cotoneaster, and Elaeagnus. domestica); 2 flora); 5 Seed-eaters will appreciate the bounty of coreopsis, blanket E. Willowleaf coto- I. Coreopsis grandiflora flower, black-eyed Susan, and fountain grass. The shrubs all neaster (Cotoneaster ‘Sunburst’; 4 salicifolius ‘Emerald Fountain grass Firethorn afford ample shelter. Carpet’); 2+10   Sunset Easy Water-Wise Gardening   11
  7. 7. DesignPermeable 7 ways to use porous pavingsurfaces 1. golden gravel In this Los Angeles garden, a base of warm-tonedLet rainfall percolate down 3/4-inch gravel makes a bold visual distinctionto plant roots from surrounding green- ery, including drought-Paths and patios that are paved with tolerant blue Seneciogravel, decomposed granite, spaced flag- mandraliscae.stones, or porous concrete are the best 2. shale and pavers 2 3choices for water-conserving gardens. Fractured shale fills gaps between concrete paversPermeable paving materials add beauty in a garden in Alamo, CA;and structure to the garden and, of course, yarrow and grassesrequire no irrigation themselves. More- soften path’s edges,over, they allow rainwater and irrigation to 3. classic filler Drought-tolerant creep-pass through them and into the soil, ing thyme grows 3 inchespreventing runoff that can clog storm tall and roots as it spreadsdrains and pollute nearby lakes, streams, to fill spaces betweenand coastal waters. flagstone pavers. 4. woodsy path Spaced If you’re considering gravel, visit your concrete “stones” curvelocal landscape supply yard to experience through a garden in Gigthe look and feel of different types. Gravel Harbor, WA. 5. fit for a firesiderefers to rocks ranging in size from 1/8 inch ‘Paprika’ yarrow andto 11/2 inches. It comes in two forms: ‘Walker’s Low’ catmintManmade crushed rock has sharp, irregu- edge a secluded gravellar edges; nature-made river rock (also seating area in Califor- nia’s wine country.known as natural pebbles) is rounded. 6. paired materialsThink about where it will be used. For Edged with pale flag-high-traffic areas, such as paths and stone, a half-inch ofpatios, use manmade crushed rock. decomposed granite over a compacted base formsBecause the pieces bind together well, a well-draining surface inthey create a more stable surface for walk-ing. The most common size is 3/8 inch, an this garden in Rancho Mirage, CA. Palo verde, agaves, opuntia cactus, 1 4all-purpose gravel that’s also good as a and barrel cactus thrivemulch around plantings. For a softer in the flanking gravelsurface under bare feet, use 1/4-inch or patches.finer natural pebbles. For low-traffic areas, 7. Pocket patio A 7-foot Clockwise from top left: Steven A. Gunther, Thomas J. Story,river rock is an attractive choice, but the circle of bricks set into a base of compacted sandlarger, smoother pieces are less stable is easy to move and adapt Thomas J. Story, Steven A. Gunther, Thomas J. Storyunderfoot than crushed rock. for different purposes. jennifer cheung/Jupiter Images, jimmccausland, You can green up surfaces covered withstone or cobbles by planting mat-forminggroundcovers between the pavers. Goodchoices for this use include creeping thyme(shown at far upper right); Dymondiamargaretae, which forms a tight mat ofnarrow, gray-green leaves and tiny yellowflowers in summer; and snow-in-summer(Cerastium tomentosum), a dense, tufty mat 7 6 5of silvery gray foliage with small whiteflowers in early summer.12   Sunset Easy Water-Wise Gardening   13
  8. 8. IrrigationEfficientwatering 101Learn about your soil,watch your plants, and getthe right toolsWhen determining how you shouldwater, first consider your plants. Because How to chooseplants with deeper roots are better able to the right hosewithstand periods of drought, your goal A cheap hose prone to kinks and cracks makesshould be to apply enough water to wet gardening a chore. It pays to invest in quality.the entire root zone and to encourage nHoses may be made of rubber or vinyl or adeep rooting. Shallow watering leads to combination of the two. The best models incor- porate multiple layers of reinforcing fabric suchshallow roots and plants that are very as nylon or rayon. Hose couplings and swivels aresusceptible to drought and fluctuatingtemperatures. You should also avoid 1 another indication of quality. The strongest couplings are made of brass—the thicker the better—and the best swivels are hexagonal forapplying so much water that it penetrates easy gripping. Also look for a protective collar justdeeper than roots actually grow. That below the coupling; it’s designed to prevent thewater is wasted. hose from kinking at the faucet. n Garden hoses vary in length (25, 50, and 100Watering checklist feet) and diameter (1/2, 5/8, and 3/4 inch). A 1/2-inchHydrozoning. Organize your landscape hose can deliver about a third as much water as a 3/4-inch hose. If you have low water pressure or ifinto “hydrozones”—groups of plants with you must run your hose uphill, buy the shortest,similar water, soil, and exposure needs. By largest-diameter hose that’s practical for yourdoing so, it’s possible to apply water very situation. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Thomas J. Story, craig d. wood, Norman A. Plate, Thomas J. Story, darrow m. wattefficiently and allocate more water tothirsty plants and less to unthirsty ones. use a hose in furrows 1. Basins 3 to 6 inches deep hold water aroundFor example, you should separate low- plants. On level ground, link basins to makewater users, which thrive on rainfall alone watering easier.or with minimal supplemental water (such 2. Furrows 3 to 8 inches deep help a hose-endas native plants, or ones similarly adapted bubbler attachment irrigate straight rows.to drought) from high-water users (suchas lawns, annual flowers, and vegetablegardens). As much as possible, maximize 1 2 3the amount of garden space dedicated tolow-water users.Observe your plants. Get to know thesigns of moisture stress, such as droopy, manual watering devices penetrating, push a stiff metal rod into the water until puddles appear, stop until the 1off-colored foliage. Hand watering can be very efficient: You can pinpoint individual plants and vary watering times based soil after watering. It will move easily water is absorbed, then repeat the cycleKnow your soil. Examine it frequently, on plant needs and weather. The right devices make it easier. through wet soil but will stop or be harder until water penetrates to the desiredmaking sure it is not too wet or too dry 1. Portable sprinklers 2. Soaker hoses Flat hoses 3. Hose-end nozzles to push when it hits dry soil. Before water- depth. Use drip or low-volume irrigationbetween waterings. If necessary, add They feature different spray perforated on one side or Nozzles turn water flow into a ing again, let the top few inches of soil dry (see pages 18–21). methods: oscillating, rotating, porous “ooze” types work best variety of sprays, from strongorganic matter to new planting areas to impulse, or traveling. Choose a on level ground. Run them jet to gentle mist. Those with out, depending on the size of the plant. Adjust watering schedules with theimprove soil texture or to hold moisture heavy-weight model with a along rows of vegetables, long handles are especially Avoid runoff. Don’t apply water faster weather and seasons. Water less often inbetter. pattern that matches the shape of the area to be watered flowers, or hedges; spiral around trees; or use to helpful for watering hanging baskets. (If the nozzle doesn’t than the soil can absorb it. Direct water to cool weather, more frequently during hot 2Water deeply, then let the soil partially plant roots by building basins or furrows of weather. Irrigate early in the morning, and that applies water evenly moisten beds of seedlings. already have a shutoff valve,dry before watering again. Irrigate long over the entire area. you can connect one between soil around plants. Use terraces or basins when winds are calm and evaporation isenough to wet the entire root zone. it and the hose.) to avoid runoff on slopes. Pulse-­irrigate low. (See “How season affects watering,”To determine how deep the water is plants in clay soil or on slopes: Apply page 25.)14   Sunset Easy Water-Wise Gardening   15
  9. 9. Irrigation Isolate sprays. Position sprinklers to elements of a prevent overspray into neighboring hydrozones or paved areas. sprinkler system Hose bibbEfficient Simplify the course. Plot layout of under- Systemwatering: ground pipes with fewest turns. shutoff Control valve and valve backflow preventerwith sprinklers Group by valve. Plot circuits—a group of Nozzle sprinklers controlled by the same valve— to correspond to the hydrozones. Every-A good choice for overhead thing on one circuit (valve) will be watered Schedule 80 riserirrigation of a large area at the same time. Your water pressure andFor large lawns and some vegetable flow rate will determine how many sprin- Pop-up sprinkler Sprinklerand flower beds, underground sprinkler klers you can have on each circuit. Each headsystems are a good option. To operate circuit should comprise the same type ofproperly, they need high pressure (40 psi sprinklers: spray or rotor. Don’t mix the two.or more at the water source). You may Cutoff riserwant to hire a professional to plan and Maintain your PVC slip byinstall the system, which entails much sprinkler system PVC slip by thread T Swing joint thread elbowphysical labor. However, sprinkler manu- To make sure your system operates effi- PVC pipefacturers provide good instructions, ciently, often watch it run to check forand many people decide to do the job signs of leaks, malfunctions, or poorthemselves. performance. Adjust sprinklers when Use the right components Nozzles These determine a sprinkler head’s necessary, and unclog heads with a knife Control valves These include backflow (anti­ pattern of spray, radius of throw, and amountDesign your system or piece of wire. Replace broken sprinklers siphon) devices to prevent water from flowing into the home water supply. of water delivered. Choose the pattern carefully to fit the shape of the area. Most spray headsTo design an underground irrigation or risers. Water-filled valve boxes or leak- Tip: Valves are usually grouped together so they have nozzles that emit water proportionately:system, follow these steps: Sprinkler ing sprinklers may be a sign that valves can easily be wired to electronic controllers. a 90° nozzle delivers a quarter of the water aMake a scale drawing of your property. need to be repaired or replaced. Wet spots Pipes These are made of rigid, white polyvinyl full-circle nozzle delivers. Variable-arc nozzles chloride (PVC). To glue or thread sections of pipe (pictured below) can be adjusted from 0° to 360°Include new or existing landscaping, hard- and a constantly running water meter are together, you’ll need fittings that come in various of spray; nozzles are also available for small areasscaping like paths and patios, and any other signs of problems. In freezing configurations (including T and elbow) and types and irregular shapes. All rotors have adjustableexisting underground utilities. Divide your climates, install a drain valve at the (slip and threaded). arcs, although how you make the adjustment Risers These vertical pieces of pipe connect varies by model and manufacturer.property into hydrozones. lowest point in each circuit. Before winter sprinklers to underground pipes. They may be Tip: Easy-to-change nozzles adjust application Spray overlap freeze, drain the system through the drain 12 to 18 inches tall to clear shrubs, 6 inches or less rates between heads with different arcs.Visit an irrigation supplier. Take time valve, and hire a professional to blow for lawn sprinklers.to familiarize yourself with components compressed air through the system to Tip: You can buy adjustable polyethylene risers at the desired height, as well as cutoff types that Variable-listed and shown in the photograph on the clear remaining water. arc allow a choice of heights. (A swing joint makes itfacing page. Pay attention to sprinkler easy to adjust the height and angle of sprinkler nozzleoutput rates and nozzle spray patterns. heads.) A simple twist changes the CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: GEORGE OLSON, THOMAS J. STORY, EM AHART (2) Sprinkler heads There are two basic catego- spray patternSketch your system ries: spray and rotary (rotors). Spray heads emit a fixed spray, whereas rotors—both gear-driven of a variable-Stores or nurseries that specialize in irriga- Sprinkler and impact types—move as they shoot out single arc nozzle totion supplies can help you plan and draw coverage Nozzle or multiple streams of water. Spray heads are the desired This illustration spray generally for smaller areas, throwing water in segment ofan irrigation system, or you may prefer to patterns a circle. shows how to about a 15-foot radius. Rotors cover up to about ahave a professional do the design. Regard- position sprin- For proper 45-foot radius but need more pressure to operate.less, it makes sense to be involved with coverage, 90° 120° klers to ensure Because they apply water at a slower rate than even coverage. typically youthe design process. Here are some basic must set some spray heads, rotors must run for longer periods Sprinkler heads to wet an area, but they are less likely to causetips when planning a system. nozzles to in the corners runoff. cast water in an different arcs Tip: Both spray heads and rotors are available inLimit heads. Use as few sprinklers as arc, while the than others. 180° 240° stationary sprinklers and pop-ups.possible to achieve head-to-head cover- center head waters in aage: Spray from one sprinkler should reach circle. Dark tintthe head of the next sprinkler. For full indicates watercoverage, each area should be covered by overlap. 270° 360°three sprinklers.16   Sunset Easy Water-Wise Gardening   17
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