As you may have seen in recent news, the California State Water Resources Control Board has announced new mandatory water restrictions for outdoor irrigation. The first being you cannot water your lawn within 48 hours of a rain event and the second being you can not allow your sprinklers to run off onto adjacent hardscaping, such as the sidewalk. Potential fines of $500 dollars may be levied; however, it is unclear how the state proposes to enforce these new restrictions. Both restrictions are common sense in the landscape world, but they are frequently violated. We have all seen on early morning walks or our commute the wet sidewalks and water running down the street. I am sure many of you have also witnessed sprinklers on during, or right after, a rain. It’s important to ensure your irrigation system is working efficiently, especially if you are responsible for a large community such as an HOA or a facility like a resort or hotel. Let’s go over some technology and best practices to help you improve your social responsibility.

Not watering 48 hours after a rain.

There is a wonderful device called a rain sensor that you can install to almost all irrigation controllers and it usually costs around $100. Its job is to interrupt the electrical connection at your irrigation controller so it will not operate your valves during or right after a rain event. Many will allow you to program them so that your irrigation will stay off for a certain number of days after a measurable rain even. Another other option is a Hunter Hydrowise controller which allows you to program, adjust and turn off your irrigation system from anywhere in the world. This way if you leave your house on a vacation and it starts raining when you are gone, you can remotely turn the controller off and save yourself from being “that neighbor”. If investing in these technologies is not within your budget, you can simply turn your controller to the off position before any rain event and wait 48 hours to turn in back on.

Water on the sidewalk or “overspray”.

This is usually due to your sprinklers being out of adjustment, too much water applied in one watering cycle, or the not so square shape your lawn is. It can be a hard issue to correct depending on the age of your system and the design of your lawn. In most cases, fixing this issue is a simple adjustment of your sprinklers which can be done using a flat-top screwdriver or another special irrigation tool you can get at your local Ewing irrigation store. If your sprinklers are old there is a chance that the gears and seals inside the sprinkler have worn out and no matter what you do to adjust it, the sprinkler will go back to watering your sidewalk the next time it pops up. In this case it would be best to replace your sprinklers for new ones. If the water is pooling on your lawn and running off this can be a programming issue and remedied by simply reducing the time of the run cycle. If your lawn has an unusual shape such as a circle or triangle, it may be very difficult to avoid getting your hardscape wet. If this is the case for your property, it’s best to have a professional come in and reconfigure the sprinklers to be more effective.

New technology.

The irrigation industry is constantly coming up with new technology to help improve how we irrigate our landscapes. For example, there are new sprinklers that can put water down much slower so that your soil has a chance to soak it up before it runs off onto the sidewalk. If you love having a nicely landscaped yard but you’re tired of that large water bill every summer, it may be time to upgrade your system. Just like buying a new car that gets better gas mileage, upgrading your irrigation system can save you money in the long haul.