Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saving Water & Money with Drip Irrigation Around Your Home

I took the kids to the Home Depot with me. 
Hey there!  If you live in CA, by now you may have noticed all of the lawns around your neighborhoods going brown.  Around mine, several neighbors, some living in decked-out houses even, have let their lawns go.  Here in San Diego County, we're only allowed to water after 6 p.m., twice a week, Tuesdays and Saturdays and no more than 10 minutes per watering station (sprinklers).  At first, I didn't take the notification seriously.  Then someone snitched me out…most likely this one lady we got always meddling around with nothing better to do.  I got a letter in the mail telling me "a neighbor" reported I was violating the watering code.

I adjusted my watering days and station times on my sprinkler timer and thought all was good and dandy.  Then I got a second letter in the mail.  I thought: What the crap!  How can this be?  I went back to the timer on the wall in my garage and realized the problem…I had not checked the day of the week.  Doh!  My timer was a full day ahead.  No wonder.

I have a gardner named, Joel (from Oaxaca), who comes twice a month to mow my lawn and prune shrubs and plants around the house for $55.  It's great service except he never checks my sprinklers.  He can turn them on manually with the valves outside, but he normally skips this and moves on to his next house.  I've talked to him about it already, now that I'm on summer vacation.  When you're working you neglect many things.  In ten years in my home, I've fixed one broken sprinkler, and several sprinkler heads, that's it.  I've seen my concrete being watered many days, and just didn't think much of it.  How much water are you losing to poor sprinkler set-up?

This lawn sprinkler on a riser watered flowers on a 2 ft by 2 ft ground space in front of a column by the entrance to my home.  The flowers died.  Even if I put a vertical growing vine or something, I'll lose water to the cement.  I can take out the riser and put in a sprinkler that rises with water pressure.  Or…I can do what I did: Cap it, mulch the dirt and forget about water being wasted. 

With my father-in-law's help, I finally got around to doing a detailed analysis of all of my sprinklers and found shoddy work done at the time I bought my home by whoever the builder hired to do the development's irrigation.  Talk about idiocy!  Why would anyone put lawn sprinklers on 12-inch risers to water flowers at ground level close to the water source?  Builders don't care about your lawns.  They have these irrigation guys put sprinkler heads with one slit so the water reaches out far enough, but the lawn just in front of the sprinkler gets the least amount of water and eventually dries up.

You have to be the one to go around inspecting everything when buying a new home and builders know you will care the least about your yard's irrigation network.  I mean who has time to inspect X number of stations with X number of sprinklers at each station?

Algae growth on my stucco!  Not good.  A 1/4 sprinkler was watering the side of the house.  I capped it.

My father-in-law and I took note of all of the sprinklers we would cap (already the riser variety), the sprinklers we would take out, put a riser/coupling on and cap, and the risers we would place a manifold on to feed tubing lines to drip irrigate plants.  I have 5 watering stations with multiple sprinklers for each one and stations 1, 2, and 5 are positioned at watering lawn.  We only replaced the sprinkler heads on these with the dual (over/under) slits to water both short and long range.  We converted stations 3 and 4, watering flowering plants and shrubs, to drip irrigation.

Riser sprinkler I put an 8-line manifold on with tubing.
Still need to finish mulching and hide the lines underneath.

The job took us three days as we ran into some problems along the way.  The most annoying problem was running out of parts, and having to make a store run again and again.  The most strenuous part of the job was fitting the tubing into the manifold outlets and onto T's when splicing was necessary.  We used a trick and heated the tips/ends of the tubes to make them easier to wiggle-push them in far enough.

Getting the tube inserted as far in as possible was a pain in the behind!  Even for a skilled Mexican like me.  Ha!

Project Costs:

I took three separate trips to the Home Depot and spent $72, $41, and $16.  I bought two tools (a PVC pipe cutter and a sprinkler nipple extractor) I needed which are considered non-consummables, i.e., I can continue to use these tools for a long time provided I keep them in good condition and indoors.  So my grand total was a mere $127.  This will save me plenty of water and from wasting money watering the concrete.  The plants will be more lush and beautiful too!


I'd love to give you a breakdown of how many units of water I'm saving, but I just put the drips in and it will take several months of comparing usage from last year for the same months.  I can tell you this: the best way to conserve water is to remove and cap sprinklers.  Look around your home and see where you can conserve.  Don't be overzealous: Start out with one sprinkling station so as not to get in over your head.  Buy a couple more parts than you think you'll need so you don't run out midway through your project and have to return to the store.  If it turns out you didn't need a coupling, cap, etc., you can always save it for the next area of your home you convert to drip.

Your plants will thank you for giving them a concentrated source of water, you'll feel good about not being wasteful, and most importantly, your water bill won't kill you each month. 
 Thanks for reading!  Subscribe to CCM blog if you liked this post to always get my latest write-up.  See u next time!

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