System stops irrigation worries

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 2, 2010

Up to this weekend we have been on a pretty long dry spell and yes, it is very early in the year to be receiving irrigation calls, but they are coming in. Every year many Miss-Lou homeowners, including myself, spend a considerable amount of money on our home landscapes.

Maintaining it throughout the year to have the best look possible is the hard part. This requires several things including proper fertilization, weed control, selective pruning and other factors but watering is without a doubt the most time consuming and sometimes most expensive factor to achieving your desired aesthetic during the hot summer months. Here is a little help for those of you wanting assistance.

Q: When should I start irrigating and for how long?

A: Water is essential for life for all living things, especially plants during hot summer months. Now we are months away from the heat of summer but many of you with vegetable gardens, flower beds, or other home landscaping have already realized the need for water, and, if you are like me and have recently added new plants, the need is even greater.

For well established plants with healthy root systems your watering requirements are not as demanding but for newly established flower beds and plants your water demands go up. I often recommend about an inch of rain a week which is very difficult to apply and measure but can be done as I have explained several times before in these articles. As I have said before it is much better to give a heavy watering two or three times a week than a little bit every day.

I recently added a lot of new landscaping to my house and knowing I would not have the time to apply the irrigation as needed I decided to put in an irrigation system. After browsing and reading up on different systems I decided to use a new system that is complimented with a solar sync sensor.

Solar sync will likely change the way people irrigate their yards in the future. It also makes considering what to do during drought, rain and freeze no longer an issue. Many of the current systems with irrigation sensors just monitor rain fall and shut the irrigation system down for a period of time set by the user, this is a good thing and does save money in the long run. However, the solar sync sensor monitors outside temperatures and variable and uses that data to calculate the evapotranspiration and determines watering requirements for you.

As the outside temperatures drop or rise the solar sync will adjust your irrigation controller for you. If the outside weather has been extremely hot the solar sync will give the go ahead to the irrigation controller and begin watering. If it’s extremely cold outside and in the freeze danger zone for watering, the irrigation sensor will shut down the irrigation controller for you.

Therefore you are essentially finished with watering at your home. Now if you are a person that enjoys watering your plants and talking to them daily, this may not be for you. But at my house that is one less thing to worry about, my wife still has enough planters and baskets to water whenever she wants to.

There are several landscapers in the Miss-Lou that apply irrigation systems, only one to my knowledge is currently installing the solar sync sensor in home landscapes.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.