We can still keep our lawns/yards green and be drought friendly. Why HB’s new, mandatory ‘watering schedule’ should change:
I’m all about critical thinking and quality decision making. And so far, HB has not done a good job with the response to the drought and effects on our yards, and ultimately the visual quality of HB. Lawns are the American Dream for many. We shouldn’t have to give up this dream. And landscaping can affect a home’s value by as much as 10-15%. A dead lawn will mean decreased home values. Funky drought tolerant plants replacing our lawns is also unnecessary and will ultimately decrease your home’s value.
I have a degree in landscape architecture from Cal Poly – the best school worldwide. We spent 2 years in plant knowledge, and 2 years in irrigation knowledge. I’m not sure that anyone in our city who is making ‘watering rules’ has a similar background, nor has consulted anyone like me before making rules that are completely flawed (in my opinion).
Watering schedules limited to 2 days per week and 10 minutes per valve make no sense. Everyone’s watering system is different, and everyone’s lawns/yards are different and have different requirements to sustain them. This flawed rule is going to leave us ALL with BROWN or DEAD yards instead of a properly thought out ‘guideline’ that makes sense.
1. Every yard with sprinklers has a different ‘precipitation rate’. By precipitation rate, I’m referring to the amount of water applied to the ground by your sprinklers each minute. Your sprinkler system may apply ½” per hour to 2 ½ inches per hour, depending on the spacing of the sprinkler heads, flow through your system, water pressure and the type of sprinkler heads used. So why should someone with ½” precipitation rate per hour be limited to 10 minutes, when someone with 2 ½” per hour is using 5 times the water in the same amount of time?
2. 10 minutes isn’t even required for daily watering. Most systems should be set to 5-7 minutes per valve, so watering 3-4 days a week would result in the same amount of water use, instead of OVER WATERING for 10 minutes – 2 days per week. 10 minutes @ 2 days per week is WASTING WATER. The water is absorbed by our sandy soils so quickly, that the plants and lawns only get to use the water for a day or two. We are essentially wasting 30-40% of the water with this flawed rule from HB City.
3. A better recommendation would be to limit watering to 20 minutes per week. Let US figure out how that works for each home. As an example, that may be 4 times per week at 5 minutes because I have Bermuda grass (shallow roots). Or that may be 3 times per week at 6 1/2 minutes because I have deeper rooted Marathon fescue grass.
We can very easily have an alternative process to help with our watering systems.
4. Just limit watering to 20 minutes per week. Simple. Effective. Fact/strategy based.
Also, we can all do more to make our watering actually more effective. Adding organic material to the soil will retain the water for days so your plants can use the water, versus gravity taking the water through the sandy soil and your plants not getting much use of the water. You can apply topsoil directly to the top of your planters and lawns to do this the easy way. Or to do it the right way, you can mix in topsoil and organic additives to achieve better results.
And for those of us with OLD lawns – your soil is most likely depleted. Now would be the time to add topsoil (quick fix) – or even replace your lawn with a drought tolerant, deep rooted, slow growing lawn (like Marathon III –www.sod.com) to have a drought tolerant, green lawn year round, and amend your soil at the same time to retain our precious water applied to it.
This goes for our parks and schools too. Most have OLD grass, depleted soil, and out-dated irrigation systems. Instead of allowing the grass to die like it is now, apply topsoil (which hasn’t been done in the 20 years I’ve been here), and improve the irrigation and ammend the watering schedule. We deserve green parks. Otherwise, what’s the plan when the drought is over and the grass is irreversibly DEAD? It will take more money to replace the grass at that time, then to remediate and keep the grass now. THINK LONG TERM, NOT SHORT TERM.
City Council, can we please get a logical, thought based rule and processes in place? This silly “Monday and Friday / 10 minute rule” is unnecessary, flawed and negatively affecting us all.