A recommendation for more responsible water uses in the home garden.
Once you have decided to grow anything in the dry western climates there are certain considerations that should be explored before you even purchase your plants. Mulch would be number one and next would be an irrigation system.
This should consist of a water distribution system managing water into various areas within your landscape. This ensures that the ability to control the proper amount of water into these areas or hydrozones are both calculated to the required water needs of the plants, the soil they are in and climate conditions they are subject to. Then the ability to adjust to whatever changes occur throughout the growing year within these zones. This is all accomplished with a watering system that is regulated by a clock or timer.
Most fruit trees require moisture available throughout the rootzone, but do not like the soil wet and lacking oxygen. The heavier the soil the more water holding capacity, the less oxygen is available when too wet and is much harder to get water to penetrate when dry. In this case consistent application of water is critical to keeping trees healthy but not over watered. For fast draining soils this problem is reversed and keeping moisture in the rootzone becomes the challenge. Experimenting with the proper amounts of water requires a tool to ensure accuracy in allowing you to dial in the amount of water for each hydrozone over time and testing. Adjusting at first to fine the ideal settings and then adjusting when needed for climate and weather changes during the year; the landscape clock is such a tool.
Laying out your yard by the water needs of different plants is a great way to start. Investigating the water needs of the plants that will be planted throughout the landscape allows you to section your plants by water needs or into hydrozones. The Landscape clock or timer then affords you the ability to regulate the proper amount of water into these hydrozones. Then adjust as needed to get just the right amount of water to plants with like water needs.
Landscape clocks can be as simple as a battery driven clock running directly off your spigot. Typically, these have one station and can control water to one hydrozone. Good for patios or areas where you are growing many container plants.
You can find clocks in many price ranges, with more sophisticated controls and stations available as the price goes up. The most basic landscape clocks with as few as 4 stations, able to control the water needs of 4 different hydrozones in your landscape, is all that is truly required. Typically, there is one clock for the front yard and one for the back. They can run as little 30 dollars and require four electronic valves that run as little as 25 dollars each, an anti-backflow or anti- siphon protector, which runs about 25 dollar and PVC pipe and fitting that run about .50 to .80 cents a foot.
So, for about 200.00 dollars you can set up a watering system in your front and or back yard and insure that for years to come you will be able to manage your water use to ensure that you are not putting too much water on your cactus and succulents and the right amount of water is going to your fruit trees to saturate the rootzone. The pay back is less water used and less plant loss do to too much or too little water.
The Landscape clock or timer is a valuable tool and when used with mulch can dramatically cut the amount of water needed to grow all your plants successfully. Saving you both on water costs and plant loss.
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