Water shortage? But it’s raining, isn’t it?

Well, yes, but mostly no.

As of this morning, after that pleasant rain over the weekend, we have 58% (10.45 inches) of normal (18.12 inches) for the season The season is measured from July 1 to June 30. Last year on this date we had 106% of normal to date. Normal for the season in Oakland, which I’m using for reference, is 20.18 inches. When I’ve spoken to people about this over the last couple of months they sort of give me the “Chicken Little Lives” look and say, well it’s all about the snow pack . . . mumble something. That’s fair and true, except the last bit.

The snowpack in the Sierra is also at 50% of normal. In fact it is barely above the lowest year on record, 1976-1977. Anyone remember that year? When everyone let their lawns die. We don’t need to do that.

So, if the sky is falling (or the rain isn’t) what do we do?

  • If you’re not going to remove your lawn, reduce it.
  • Get your existing irrigation in its optimal, most efficient, condition. I can’t tell you how often I go out to a new client and they say that their system is working fine and when I turn it on I find a broken head flooding the sidewalk or heads are poorly adjusted and over-spraying the sidewalk (which is illegal now, BTW).
  • Your lawn should have “head-to-head” coverage, i.e. the spray from one head should touch that from the heads on either side–if you don’t get good coverage, you need to run the water longer.
  • Convert old sprays in planting beds to drip–approx 50% efficiency vs 90% efficiency. Don’t water your fences. They’re never going to grow. Trust me on this.
  • If everything else is working, check your watering schedule. Most people over water.
  • Add a rain sensor to your controller so you’re  not watering if it ever does rain.

So it comes down to: Assess,  Replace, Upgrade. Rather reminds me of my nursing days.