“During the drought we have converted hundreds of thousands of feet of high-water-use plant materials to drought-tolerant landscapes with the help of local rebate programs. However, due to high demand, these rebate programs no longer have funds available,” says Raj L. Brown, the director of resource management for Heaviland Landscape Management, Vista, California. He shares these eight initiatives his company embraces to conserve water.
1. We have put together comprehensive matrix of the water restrictions in each of the 17 water districts where we maintain properties. Each district has different restrictions, so we have devoted time and resources to training our maintenance crews to be knowledgeable of the different restrictions in their service areas.
2. We provide increased responsiveness to controller programming when rain is forecasted. Controllers must be shut off during a rain event and 48 hours thereafter.
3. As a company, we have converted many of our manual irrigation controllers to weather-based irrigation controllers in the past few years. Unfortunately, there are only a few water agencies that provide a water window exemption for weather-based controllers. This means we have to manually program our controllers to meet two-day-per-week water allotments, which essentially disregards all of the weather-based management capabilities.
4. During seasonal and annual color change outs we are recommending low-water hardy plant materials such as scaevola plants and succulent mixes.
5. We have reduced hard trimming of plant material that has high water usage needs. Plant materials grow slower with limited access to water; therefore, the recovery time from deep pruning increases.
6. We have reduced mowing cycles and increased mowing height(s). Taller grass provides greater root insulation and reduces soil evaporation. Increased mowing heights help conserve water.
7. We have reduced chemical/fertilizer applications on turf due to reduced water usage.
8. We conduct full-system irrigation audits due, in part, to runoff restrictions and public concern.