Cool Green Gardens

Gone With The Wind

Yes, I’m still going on about water conservation. Well, why not? We’re in the dog days of summer and I’m here to help you save a few gallons and a few bucks. Besides, if water is running off your land and into the storm drains, all that fertilizer and junk is messing up local waterways.

Here are two important things to consider:

High Pressure Systems
The only thing sadder than watching poorly adjusted sprinklers spraying sidewalks or washing away someone’s hapless weiner dog is seeing billions of tiny droplets wafting away on a breeze. Tsk, tsk, tsk!

‘Misting’ occurs when a lot of water tries to pass through a small space. Water meant for your garden–now gone with the wind. That’s great for your next-door neighbor’s tropical orchids but why are you paying for it. I know–you’re just a generous kind of person.

But let’s be realistic. The way to reduce misting is to reduce the pressure reaching the sprinklers, whether it’s an in-ground system or a wiggly thing at the end of a hose.

Get down on your knees and take a close look at your sprinklers (sorry, not that close–didn’t mean for you to qualify for the wet t-shirt contest) and write down the manufacturer and model number on the nozzle. Then look up the specifications for them online. Here’s an example for a Toro 570 nozzle. You might see that the nozzle is supposed to throw a 12 foot radius when receiving 20 to 30 psi (pounds per square inch).

Next, call the nice folks at your water agency and find out the pressure at your meter. If it far exceeds the ideal for your sprinklers, you’ll want to slap in a pressure regulator and fix your problem. You’ll save money and help your community when you keep all that precious water where it will do you the most good.

Head Trips
So you’ve got your system’s pressure under control. Good for you!  Ready to take another step? Let’s make sure that every drop falls right where you want it.

The newest innovation in sprinkler heads are MP Rotators, made by Hunter. The key behind this technology comes from multiple streams of water, rather than the typical fan spray most nozzles deliver. The streams produce a very efficient spray of fat droplets that don’t float away on the air.

They also have a low precipitation rate, a tech term that just means only a little water reaches the soil at a time. It’s like the difference between a gully washer and a drizzle. That’s especially good if you have sloping or heavy soil where run-off can be a problem.

The water savings from switching to MP Rotators is conservatively estimated at 30%, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
So put a note on the bathroom mirror to check these ideas out this weekend. Lemme know whatcha think!

View Comments


  1. verdancedesign 08/11/2009

    I was literally watching the misting from a comercial sprinkler system Friday and thinking, "I should write about this." I'm so glad you wrote it first! I do think you might've oversimplified the fix; it's slightly more involved than slapping in a regulator. In the past I've recommended irrigation auditors or landscape contractors who have earned irrigation tech certification. But it's great to see how something like the MP Rotator can make such a difference in a high-pressure system — thanks for the education!

  2. BillyGoodnick 08/11/2009

    John: You're correct that sometimes the fix is more complex than just a pressure regulator, but the constraints of this forum don't really lend themselves to the complexities of irrigation design 101 (even if I were qualified to teach it, which, admittedly, I am not).

    My hope is that raising awareness for the average reader will lead them to take some kind of action. I've mentioned in this series the great water auditing service provided by most water purveyors. That's always the best starting point.

    Thanks for keeping my pencil point sharpened and sharing my alarm at seeing all the wasted water that's gone with the wind.

  3. BeWaterWiseRep 10/09/2009

    Installing a smart sprinkler controller saves about 40 gallons of water a day. Good landscaping techniques not only add beauty to the garden but also help to save water and money. will help to estimate the right amount of water to give your landscape or garden every week.

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