Thursday, August 30, 2012

Winterize irrigation systems

As cooler weather returns each fall everyone gets excited about winterizing there irrigation system. I try to schedule three periods for winterizing systems. The first starts the beginning of October or just before the first frosts occur. I generally only winterize home owner installed systems that have spray heads and pipes above soil level. The Second period is the main winterizing period. I generally start this just a week before the first hard frost (lows in low 20's).  This is generally the end of October or first part of November   Well designed and and installed systems will survive significant cold weather. The most damage I have seen with systems winterized after significant cold weather has been a few broken spray nozzles. If a spray nozzle is damaged I will replace it at no charge for customers I winterize. The third period is the late winterization season. This is generally done after Thanksgiving. This is for people who forgot to have the systems winterized earlier or for new landscapes. There are always warmer days during the winter to winterize systems. I have seen very little damage from frost in irrigation systems from cold weather, but damage can be expensive if the back flow is damaged. I generally put a bag of shipping peanuts over the back flow of my customers.

Enjoy winter, I will try.


The Best Part of the Season

  So many people feel as September arrives that the best weather of the season has pasted.  I disagree, September through November with the clear cool nights and warm days are so delightful.  The down side for me is the pines begin to lose their old needles.  Ponderosa pine keep there needles for two to seven years.  Each fall the older needles die and fall to the ground.  That keeps me quite busy raking and hauling to recycling.  Over the next few weeks I will begin to reduce the irrigation on the landscapes.  The plants do not need as much water in the fall as they needed in the heat of July & August.  I normally will drop days from the irrigation program to reduce the amount of water each week.  Most like the lower water bill.  I will also put down the last fertilization of the season in September or October.  This season I will end the season with a good application of organic fertilizer.  Organic fertilizers are easier on the plants and do not have the shot of growth often found with chemical fertilizers.  With organics I will be feeding the soil not the plants.  As the soil responds to the organic fertilizer the soil will reliece the nutrients to the plants in the landscape.  This is very important in the fall.  The reduced irrigation with the organic fertilizer help the plants to slow down growth and harden off before the hard freezes of winter arrive.   One thing most people do not understand in the fall is that plants stop top growth before the plant is completely dormant.  In turf grasses the roots continue to grow until the soil temperatures are below 40 degrees F.  I do carry a thermometer in the truck to monitor this each season.

Well it is getting late and I should spend some time with Bobbe.  Enjoy Fall one of the four great seasons here on the high desert.