Retrofit Your Irrigation System to Avoid Runoff
September, 2014 - Issue #119
Since water efficiency has become an essential practice in all regions of California, people are upgrading their spray irrigation by converting them to more efficient systems.

Spray irrigation tends to release too much water for the Santa Clarita Valley's clay soil to absorb, resulting in water runoff. Instead of producing heavy water drops, spray nozzles also tend to create mist that gets blown away by the wind.

Irrigation manufacturers have designed technologies that adapt to existing spray irrigation systems, so you don't have to start from scratch. There are three main types of irrigation retrofits:

1. For lawns, rotating nozzles work best because of the even application of water and the droplets' resistance to wind. Rotating nozzles shoot rotating streams or "fingers" of water more slowly and uniformly than conventional spray heads, giving time for the water to soak down into the soil.

2. For trees and shrubs, bubblers work best because the water flow can be controlled. Placed near the base of the shrub or tree, bubbler nozzles bubble over in place directly at the soil level, rather than spray outwards. This technique creates a slow pooling of water that infiltrates deep into the soil. Berms or basins are necessary to hold the water and eliminate excess runoff.

3. Drip irrigation is ideal for all shrubs, trees and individual plants with space between them because of the direct application of water to the plant base. Water is applied slowly (gallons per hour) and is efficient on slopes or in heavy clay soil.

Please keep in mind that each zone of your landscape should consist of only one type of irrigation. In other words, different types should never be mixed within a single zone. Each irrigation type also works best at a specific pressure range depending on the manufacturer's specifications and should be used with pressure-reducing valves to achieve optimal performance.

The Family of Water Suppliers consists of Castaic Lake Water Agency, L.A. County Waterworks District #36, Newhall County Water District, Santa Clarita Water Division, Valencia Water Company and the City of Santa Clarita. For more outdoor water saving tips, visit
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