Water Conservation

Landscape Water Conservation Tips: In general the most efficient way to water your landscape is to water deep, less frequently, and early in the morning.  Watering deep at longer intervals promotes deep rooting of plant material, which creates healthier plants.  While it is true that different plants have different water requirements, plants adapt to their environment.  Plants that are watered daily adapt to the daily watering by producing less roots and more foliage. As a result they become much more vulnerable to drought conditions and or system failures.  It’s hard to give advice that will work right for every situation, but start by watering less frequently, every 2 to 3 days maximum for turf and longer for established shrubs.  In some situations this may not be possible.  Examples are new plant materials, hanging baskets, or soils with extremely low water holding capacity such as sand.  Water for longer intervals but not too long, soil that contains a lot of clay can only absorb so much water and after it reaches the saturation point you’re basically washing fertilizers down the storm drain. A good way to gauge watering time is to observe how long it takes for each zone to produce run off.  Although it’s more difficult to program, watering an area 3 times for 5 minutes with 1 hour intervals is far better then watering once for 15 minutes. This type of scheduling is called cycle and soak and it is very effective for watering steep slopes, narrow strips, clay soils or for just maximizing water absorption (see the consumption report document for more information). Watering early in the morning when evaporation is at its lowest point is also helpful. Watering early in the evening can promote fungus growth and should be avoided.  Use mulches like bark to absorb and retain water.  Finally if you’re not around, or you don’t have time to shut your system off in the rain, have us install a rain sensor or weather based smart controller.

Rain Sensors:  All sprinkler systems that use a controller to run automatically should have a rain sensor. A rain sensor is a small device that clips to your rain gutter or a location where it is exposed to weather.  The sensor contains small absorbent rings that expand when wetted by rain.  As the rings expand they eventually trip a switch that sends a signal back to your controller that cuts power to the zone valves.  The controller remains disabled until the sensor adequately dries which may take several days depending on the weather. The amount of rainfall it takes to trip the sensor is adjustable. Depending on the size of system, rain sensors usually pay for themselves within 2 years through reduced water bills.  They can also save you the embarrassment of watering your yard during a complete downpour and wasting a resource a valuable resource.  Wireless Rain Sensors: Your internet access is wireless so why not your rain sensor?  Wireless rain sensors combine hard wired technology with wireless convenience.  Installation time is slashed from 2 hours to 30 minutes or less and the receiver portion that wires to almost any existing controller has a lighted display.  Unlike the old hard wired sensors which don’t have a display, wireless models indicate if the sensor has suspended watering due to adequate rain fall, taking the mystery out of its functionality

View Status of Local Water Supplies:  The following link takes you to the Seattle Public Utilities web site where you can view several graphs pertaining to our current water supply.  Most of the water districts on the east side of Lake Washington buy their water from Seattle public utilities which gets its water from 2 large reservoirs located in the cascades.  One of the two is the Tolt Reservoir located just east of Carnation and the other is Chester Morse reservoir located South East of North Bend.  These two reservoirs rely on snow pack to get them through the traditionally dry summer months and when snow packs are low in April water restrictions are a possibility. Not all districts buy from Seattle,  Union Hill, Ames Lake and Northeast Sammamish water districts get there water elsewhere. The districts that don’t buy from Seattle generally pump their water from wells. This means that these water districts may have water restrictions despite the fact that there is 20 feet of snow in the mountains.  The graphs compare current data to historical data and include year to date rain fall, current snow pack, current reservoir levels, and consumption rates. Click the link below to view their site.