22 Mar 2014

5 Myths About Irrigation of Puget Sound Landscapes

Sprinkler Fun
Sprinkler Fun by Allan Lee

A properly functioning irrigation system is crucial to maintaining an outstanding landscape.

Plantscapes’ irrigation department is moving into full swing with the beginning of spring. You’ll find our crews all over the Puget Sound area, turning on irrigation systems, repairing damage caused by the winter cold snap, and setting clocks and sprinkler heads for the most effective and efficient use of your water.

Irrigation systems need to be adjusted for proper coverage, seasonal changes and normal wear and tear. Something as simple as a broken sprinkler head can damage your landscape. If you aren’t a regular maintenance client, you can still contact Plantscapes to have your irrigation system maintained and turned on and to have your backflow regulator inspected. Call us at 206-623-7100 for an appointment.

As we talk with our clients each spring, we frequently hear questions about the best way to care for and water landscapes. We also hear some irrigation myths repeated by many people. Here are the Top 5 misconceptions about landscape irrigation:

Myth #1
Watering during a hot, sunny day can “burn” the leaves of your plants

This is simply untrue. Water droplets do not act like little magnifying glasses, focusing the sun’s rays until your a plants’ leaves become scorched. If this myth were true, plants would never survive a rainstorm. You not only can, but should, water your landscape during hot weather. Your plants need water to thrive.

Myth #2
Never water at night – it causes fungus.

Fungus is caused by lack of air circulation, high humidity, or over-watering – not by moisture per se. The best time to irrigate your landscape is usually right after dawn or right before sunset. Little water will be lost to evaporation during these times, making your irrigation that much more efficient. In addition, your city’s water department may offer financial incentives to water during non-peak hours.

Myth #3
You don’t need to turn on your irrigation system if it has rained recently.

In fact, the soil may not absorb most of the water from a rain shower. Whether or not you need to continue to run your irrigation system will depend on the types of plants in your landscape, the amount of rain, and the duration of the storm. Much rainwater is lost to run off and evaporation. If you use a rain sensor and allow your sprinkler system to run on its regular schedule, it can distribute the water slowly and efficiently.

Myth #4
Watering every day encourages shallow roots.

More than anything else, shallow roots are caused by soil compaction. In healthy soil, the roots will spread outward and downward to find the nutrients they need. The best way to grow a deep-rooted lawn is to aerate it regularly each year, adding compost and organic matter as necessary.

Myth #5
Rain sensors are a waste of money and don’t work anyway

You may hear this one from people who have seen irrigation systems running in the rain.  But as we’ve already seen, rain showers alone do not decrease your landscapes’ need for regular watering. Many other factors, such as time and intensity, come into play. A well regulated and maintained rain sensor or controller will turn off your sprinklers after a pre-determined amount of rain. Your irrigation specialist will program this amount taking the size and requirements of your property into account.

If you’d like to learn more about irrigation techniques in the Puget Sound region, you can download a short pamphlet from Water Saving Partnership, a group of local water utilities in Seattle and King County working together to help customers save water and money.

06 Jan 2014

It’s Time to Test Your Irrigation System’s Backflow Preventer

It is time for your annual irrigation system backflow prevention test.

Backflow is potentially contaminated water that flows from a source such as an irrigation system back into a home’s drinking water or a city’s water supply.

In Washington state, all irrigation systems are required to have a backflow preventer and to have the backflow preventer inspected annually for proper operation.backflow-doublecheck

Backflow preventers are used in cross connections in irrigation systems. A cross connection is a point in a plumbing system where the drinking water supply is connected, or can be connected, to a non-drinking water source.

A one-way valve is integrated into the plumbing to keep contaminated water from entering your drinking water or the city’s water supply.
The one-way check valve assemblies allow the water to only move forward into the system, not backwards into the water supply pipes that supply fresh water to homes and businesses. This is how backflow assemblies protect our water supply.

Annual testing of your irrigation backflow system is required by Washington State Code WAC 246-290-490 to assure that it is in perfect working order.

Even the best backflow assembly can fail because of freezing, debris, improper installation and unapproved plumbing connections. That’s why state law requires that backflow assemblies be tested every year.

If your backflow system fails the test, repairs must be performed immediately. A backflow assembly that has failed will not protect our water supply. Plantscapes Inc. will be able to assist you in bringing your system back to good working order.

Upon successful completion of the test, we will provide you with all the necessary paperwork required by your local utility.

Call Plantscapes at 206.623.7100 to schedule a certified backflow test.