Ecoyards provides complete lawn and landscape services with an emphasis on quality customer service and environmental responsibility.

Cycle and soak

July 31, 2013 @ 6:04 pm
Cycle and soak method can help prevent runoff; photo by jellaluna via Creative Commons license

Cycle and soak method can help prevent runoff; photo by jellaluna via Creative Commons license

We’ve written a lot on this blog about ways to conserve water in your landscape. One of the easiest ways is to water your lawn and plants deeply but infrequently using a water-efficient technique called cycle and soak.

In the cycle and soak method, you water in increments (or cycles) until the soil has absorbed the maximum moisture before water starts running off onto the sidewalk or streets. Instead of watering for 20 minutes straight, for example, you water for 10 minutes, wait about an hour for the water to absorb, and water for another 10 minutes. Watering two times for 10 minutes will allow your lawn or landscape to absorb more moisture than watering for a straight 20 minutes.

Watering in increments allows the soil to absorb more moisture more slowly and to avoid sprinkler runoff. Water travels deeper into the ground; and roots follow, reaching deeper and broader into the ground for that moisture, creating a healthier lawn.

Most sprinkler systems can be programmed to water your landscape using the cycle and soak method. The amount of time you run your sprinkler will depend on the type of soil and the slope of your yard. Each zone of your landscape may need different amounts of water. Clay soils may take longer to absorb water, while sandy soils may take less time. Ideally, you want to water your lawn or landscape so that the soil is moist about 6-8 inches deep; you’ll know when you can easily push a probe through the soil to those depths.

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Fix a leak week

March 21, 2013 @ 8:00 am

epaIt’s Fix a Leak Week, and the EPA is encouraging residents to check and replace leaky plumbing and sprinkler systems to save water and reduce utility bills. The agency says that more than 1 trillion gallons of water could leak from U.S. homes each year.

Many of the most common household leaks can easily be fixed, including leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets and leaking valves in sprinkler systems. For great step-by-step tutorials on how to find and fix leaks from outdoor faucets and toilets, check out the Saving Water Partnership website. That same group offers tips on how to conserve water outside as well.

We’ve blogged here in the past about many ways you can conserve water in your landscaping. You can start by having a well-thought out plan for your landscape that incorporates low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants. Picking the right plants for your conditions (whether shady, sunny, etc.), and you’ll have do use less water and fertilizers to keep them thriving. The Bellevue Botanical Garden’s WaterWise Garden, for example, shows you can be water-conscious and still have a garden with a wide array of attractive, colorful plants. Read more from Western Washington University about how to conserve water in landscapes.

We also encourage homeowners to check for leaks in sprinkler systems and consider upgrading to newer, water-saving technology to prevent overwatering. As we’ve noted in the past, the city of Seattle and other utilities in the region give homeowners rebates when they upgrade their sprinkler systems. Call Ecoyards for assistance if you think your in-ground sprinkler system is leaking. Our irrigation specialists can help determine whether and where your system is leaking, and come up with a plan to fix it. We also offer design, installation, and maintenance of efficient sprinkler and drip irrigation systems. Find out more about our irrigation services.

The EPA recommends easy tips both inside and outside the house to check for leak problems.

  • Check toilets for silent leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank at the bank, and watching whether color shows up in the bowl in 10 minutes (before flushing).
  • Check outdoor hoses for winter damage and tighten connections.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.

 

 

Filed under Seattle Irrigation Services, Seattle Landscape Maintenance · 1 Comment »

Upgrade your sprinkler system

August 27, 2012 @ 8:30 am

Eco-conscious homeowners have been switching to energy-efficient dishwashers, light bulbs, and washers and dryers to save water and money. It’s now time to consider sprinkler irrigation upgrades. New sprinkler technology has made it easy to save water, and many cities including Seattle offer rebates or other incentives for those who upgrade to energy-saving water devices.

We explain some of the sprinkler upgrades you can undertake:

Rotary nozzle from Rain Bird.

Consider replacing old sprinkler heads, especially those 10 years or older. New sprinkler heads are much more efficient at delivering water where it’s needed. These heads have built-in pressure regulators to minimize water loss through misting or fogging from excess pressure.  Heads can also be fitted with check valves to eliminate low-head drainage. The city of Seattle and other utilities participating in the Saving Water Conservation offers a $10 rebate per sprinkler head with pressure regulation and/or check valves on heads with drainage problems.

Convert to high-efficiency rotating nozzles.These multi-stream nozzles save up to 20 percent less water than traditional spray nozzles. They distribute water more slowly and uniformly. The water is less likely to mist and reduces runoff into sidewalks and streets. The city of Seattle and other utilities participating in the Saving Water Conservation offers a $3 rebate per nozzle.

Drip system conversions. Convert certain areas of your landscapes, such as a plant beds and vegetable gardens to a drip irrigation system. These system slowly drip water directly into the soil, preventing evaporation and diseases that could result from allowing too much moisture to get on foliage and fruit. The city of Seattle and other utilities participating in the Saving Water Conservation offers a $0.30 rebate per square foot of landscape bed irrigation with drip.

Rain Bird Smart Irrigation Controller.

Install a smart irrigation controller. These weather-based smart controllers allow you to set how often and how much you water certain areas of your lawn or landscape. Smart irrigation technology senses weather changes and adjusts the irrigation accordingly. If it rains, it stops watering. If it’s hotter or the soil is drier than usual, the controller will increase watering. The controllers do all the work, and they are a much more efficient and sophisticated way to reduce outdoor water use. Studies show that weather-based irrigation technology help reduce outdoor water use anywhere from 15 to 30 percent, depending on the type of controller and where it was used.

Tune up and maintain your existing sprinkler system every year. Cap sprinkler heads that you no longer need (i.e. in an area where a patio was installed). Regularly check your system to make sure none of the sprinkler heads are broken or leaking. Fix areas where you have sprinkler overspray; where water is getting to areas that don’t need to be watered like your sidewalk!

Contact us at (206)-770-7879 or email us for a consultation if you are interested in upgrading your sprinkler system.

Filed under Seattle Irrigation Services, Seattle Landscape Maintenance · No Comments »

Make the most of rain barrels

May 30, 2009 @ 6:19 pm

The past week has brought gorgeous sunny weather — even surprisingly high temperatures — to the Puget Sound area. That’s been great for our vitamin D-deprived bodies, but our plants may be feeling the heat. This week has been the perfect time to tap into your 50-gallon rain barrel (hopefully you have at least one installed at your house) to use up the water that you’ve stored from the spring. (For where to buy in Seattle, go to the Seattle Public Utilities Web site; for King County information, check out this site).

Rain barrels allow you to catch rainwater off your roof during rainy days, and to store it to use during dry periods. Seattle rain_barrelrelies on mountain snowmelt for its water supply, so water is precious during summer months (especially if we’ve had less snow than usual the previous winter). Water rates also jump in the summer months, so rain barrels can help you save money and conserve water.

We have two rain barrels that we bought from the city of Seattle and have set up in the backyard to water our non-edible plants. Should you use the rainwater from your roof on plants that you eat? We err on the safe side and use the water exclusively for our non-edible plants. We have plenty of other trees and shrubs to water, and our vegetables are already on an efficient drip-irrigation system.

Over the years, I’ve found that the easiest way to water plants, especially trees, is to buy a few cheap 5-gallon buckets, poke a hole near the bottom of each bucket and set them under the rain barrel to fill one at a time.  Once a bucket is full of water, I’ll set the bucket out near the base of a tree that needs water while another bucket is being filled under the rain barrel. Trees, shrubs and other plants like the slow, deep irrigation that trickels out from the small hole in the bucket. The slow-drip allows the water to seep into the soil more deeply rather than just running off the ground surface or evaporating.

Filed under Seattle Irrigation Services, Seattle Landscape Maintenance · 2 Comments »