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Grey water in the Bay Area

Article written about the new law change on Graywater all over the bay area. Including Contra Costa County, East Bay, North Bay, Marin County, South Bay, Santa Clara County, and the Peninsula.

The Goods on Graywater
Written by Deia de Brito Friday, 31 July 2009 22:18

In California, we are in the third year of a drought that has now risen to levels deemed “severe” by the state government. Precipitation, run-off, snow packs, and reservoirs are low, while water resources have been over-allocated. That’s why everybody’s talking about water conservation — from efficient showerheads, low-flush toilets, and limits on lawn-watering, to wastewater reclamation and rainwater catchment. One of the recent victories for the water conservation community has been the rewriting of an antiquated and draconian state plumbing code that dealt with the reuse of graywater.

Since state Senator Alan Lowenthal authored SB 1258 in July of 2008, stakeholders have convened several times in Sacramento to come up with a more user-friendly revision that eliminates the code’s difficult and expensive permit requirements. Because of the governor’s February 27, 2009 drought emergency declaration urging urban water users to cut consumption by 20 percent, the revised code was fast-tracked into effect — approved by the California Building Standards Commission on July 30 and implemented shortly thereafter, two years ahead of schedule.

Graywater is wastewater from bathtubs, showers, bathroom sinks, and washing machines that has not been contaminated by toilet water, bodily waste, or harmful chemicals. The average American uses about 100 gallons of potable (drinking quality) water each day — accounting for the highest residential water consumption in the world. By reusing graywater, a person can reduce the amount of potable water he or she uses by 50 to 80 percent.

There are no documented cases of anybody getting sick from graywater, but California’s graywater law has made it nearly impossible for ordinary people to reuse graywater without breaking the law. Reasons for the code’s strict requirements include health departments and building officials’ concerns over direct exposure to graywater and the possibility of graywater surfacing and running off into neighboring yards and streams. However, research has shown that graywater, if applied properly, is a time-tested and safe method of irrigating gardens and lawns, which account for 80 percent of residential water use.

The result of the state’s cumbersome graywater code has been telling: in California, there are an estimated 8,000 un-permitted systems for every permitted system. Graywater experts say there are 200 permitted systems in the state. Laura Allen, co-founder of the Greywater Guerrillas — a graywater advocacy group specializing in do-it-yourself systems — and co-editor and author of Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground, has played a major role in the proliferation of illegal systems, which amount to well over a million in the state. After graduating as an environmental science major at UC Berkeley 10 years ago, the fact that she didn’t know where her water came from or where it went began to drive her crazy, so she enrolled in a basic plumbing class. She detached the sink drains and flushed the toilet with sink water and began draining her shower water into her backyard garden. Later, she built composting toilets to further extricate herself from the water grid.

Today, the Guerrillas teach sliding-scale workshops in which people actually get to install simple, low-tech graywater systems in someone’s home. The total cost of all the supplies needed adds up to no more than $150. The old code required that all systems be high-tech — replete with filters, pumps, and tanks — and buried at least nine inches underground. As a result, a legal system can range in cost from about $2,500 to $4,500. With the costs of permits, inspections, geotechnical studies of groundwater levels, soil percolation tests, and professional plans, the total cost can add up to $20,000.

The new code will allow homeowners to install single fixture systems (which collect graywater from one plumbing fixture) as well as clothes washer systems without obtaining permits, as long as they follow 12 simple requirements, such as the prohibition of ponding or run-off and the disposal of home waste products. In general, graywater users should use all natural products that do not contain boron or salts and install a two-way valve than can divert water to the sewer if needed.

Allen, who has been participating in the stakeholder’s meetings in Sacramento, believes the new code will allow cities, water districts, and organizations to promote and provide workshops on simple, low-tech systems. People won’t feel like they have to hide it, she said. And professionals, who have long been burdened by the requirements for legal systems and often denied permits, will be able to install such systems.

Before 1992, there was no mention of graywater in California’s plumbing code. All wastewater from homes was to be disposed of by sewer or septic tank. But during droughts in the 1970s and 80s, Santa Barbara residents began finding makeshift ways to reuse their graywater as a way to save water — filling up buckets with shower water, reusing dishwater. In 1987, the city became the first in the nation to legalize and create graywater standards. Several other cities and counties in California followed suit, but there lacked a statewide set of regulations. And despite local attempts to introduce graywater reuse, regulations were so inaccessible that according to Art Ludwig — graywater historian, inventor, and author of Create an Oasis with Graywater — in Santa Barbara, only 10 systems have been granted permits in the past 20 years.

In 1992, AB 3518 (Sher) directed the Department of Water Resources to write a statewide irrigation code as part of the California Plumbing Code. As the result of AB 313 (McDonald), the code was revised in 1997 to include multifamily, commercial, and institutional buildings in the reuse of graywater. But since the beginning, health officials were focused on the public health risks of graywater reuse, and local governments were afraid of liability.

“I originally wanted the code to be rational enough for normal people to be able to obtain a permit,” said ReWater Systems designer Steve Bilson, who sponsored both assembly bills. “There’s always been this bias that graywater is dangerous. The science just does not prove that.”

Bilson lives in San Diego, which he says is one of the least water conservative cities on the planet. For three and a half years, he has been trying to obtain a permit for a residential graywater system, and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.

Applicants in the Bay Area have not necessarily had it any easier. “I would still consider it to be very difficult to obtain a permit in Northern California,” said John Russell, landscape architect and founder of WaterSprout, which specializes in graywater and rainwater catchment systems installation. “Up until very recently San Francisco was not permitting systems period. Berkeley, Oakland, Palo Alto, and Marin have been somewhat receptive. All of Contra Costa County has been very anti-graywater.” Despite the difficulty in graywater permitting and the recent struggles of the landscaping industry, WaterSprout has been so successful in the past year and a half that Russell installs almost exclusively graywater and rainwater catchment systems. Russell recently began his first commercial installation job installing a rainwater catchment system on Alcatraz Island to water its historic gardens without barging potable water over from San Francisco.

When Arizona became the first state to create what Art Ludwig calls a “graywater revolution” in 2001 — granting general permits to all residential graywater systems that do not exceed 400 gallons per day as long as they follow 13 simple rules — graywater reuse became a more acceptable conservation measure. The Arizona model — followed by New Mexico, Texas, Montana, and Nevada — sparked a movement among environmentalists to rethink California’s graywater code, and provided a successful example for the state to consider.

“Before it was legal, 13 percent — about 35,000 households — of single family homeowners in southern Arizona were already using graywater. We know that percentage has grown,” said Val Little, executive director of Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona (Water CASA), a consortium of water providers and users that initiated research into graywater reuse 11 years ago. The overwhelming number of illegal systems pressured water providers to revise the code.

In 2004, Water CASA worked with legislators to implement a tax credit program as an incentive for homeowners to install graywater systems. “Last year, Tucson implemented a requirement that all new single family households built after July of 2010 be plumbed to capture graywater. Other towns are doing the same thing,” said Little. “Within the next year or two, I think there will be a national policy for graywater.”

In early 2008, Carrie Cornwell, chief consultant for the state Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee at Senator Lowenthal’s office, pushed for the revision of California’s graywater code. “The Department of Water Resources said they didn’t have the resources or the money. That would have killed the bill,” said Cornwell. “My feeling is that they care about really big supply issues when it comes to water, and graywater is not a really big supply issue.” The Department of Housing and Community Development, which has been developing green building standards, agreed to take over the graywater code for residential landscape irrigation from the Department of Water Resources.

“The big difference is that the old code was written as a disposal code,” said Bilson. “We needed an irrigation code.” The first graywater code was written with the preservation of septic tanks in mind as well as the diversion of water from the sewage system, focusing on disposal rather than reuse through landscape irrigation. According to John Russell, the old code was adopted directly from the septic code, which requires water to settle into a gravel trench 17 inches underground. “For septic systems, you want to get rid of the water and make sure it doesn’t surface at all, but with graywater, we actually want it to stick around,” said Russell. The subsurface drip irrigation system — considered the best option for irrigation under the old code — requires a depth of nine inches, as well as filters, tanks, and pumps to prevent clogging. But most of the microbial ecosystems that filter graywater are in the top six to eight inches of soil.

The revision to the code makes graywater installation a lot easier and cheaper by permitting water tubing to be placed only two inches under mulch, rock, or soil. “Mulch is much more garden-friendly material because it breaks down into compost and it provides nutrients over time, whereas gravel just sits there and provides no nutrients to the landscape,” said Russell.

“At EBMUD, 65 percent of water is used for residential use,” said Dick Bennett, water conservation specialist at the East Bay Municipal Utility District — the water provider that serves 1.3 million people in 22 cities in the counties of Alameda and Contra Costa. “We’ve offered incentives for graywater reuse, but we’ve only had 10 systems over the last 15 years — it’s way too expensive,” said Bennett. “Under the new regulations, we can offer incentives to non-permitted systems.”

But the new code clearly states that jurisdictions “may, after a public hearing and enactment of an ordinance or resolution, further restrict or prohibit the use of graywater systems.” Even San Francisco — now taking the lead on water recycling, stormwater management, and rainwater catchment — could be taking up a stricter interpretation of the state graywater code. Michael Mitchell, senior plumbing inspector with the San Francisco Plumbing Inspection Division, says the city is discussing amendments to the new code that will require permits for all systems, even single-fixture systems and washing machine systems. The main concerns lie with alteration of piping and potential open sewer lines.

Since the graywater code revisions began, Laura Allen, along with other individuals and groups, formed the Greywater Alliance. One of its goals is to pass city ordinances that will direct the plumbing department to interpret graywater regulations in a graywater friendly manner and create a streamlined permitting process in Oakland and Berkeley.

“Right now, I try to get a graywater system permitted in Oakland and I ended up going to the building department and the first four responses of five people were ‘what’s graywater?’” said Nik Bertulis, a member of the DIG Cooperative, a worker-owned ecological design company that installed the first permitted graywater systems in San Francisco and Berkeley, including the Eco House. “There’s bureaucratic ignorance and we need literacy about environmental issues for us to be able to move forward as a society.”

While graywater legislation for residential landscape use is moving forward, Elizabeth Dougherty, organizer of the Northern California chapter of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association, says our conservation and reuse potential will not be complete until we achieve greater commercial and institutional graywater reuse and develop statewide standards for residential indoor use of graywater, which is currently left up to local jurisdictions. For now, places that lack backyards, like the majority of San Francisco, might be out of luck when it comes to graywater reuse. The city’s main focus is not irrigation, according to Rosey Jencks, urban watershed management program planner at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, but it might be too early to interpret indoor graywater reuse. First, it needs to come from the state, she said. “But we’re definitely going to be really interested in following that.”

“What’s happening is paradigm shift. People are going to become increasingly aware that there are multiple sources of water. We use our water once and throw it away. We could afford to throw away this water but we can’t anymore,” said Bilson. He points out that in the 1990s, when cities began to put out compost bins, everybody became a little more organic. He hopes to see cities take similar initiative with graywater incentive programs.

SPECIAL NOTE: This article was produced with the help of Spot.Us (an open source project that supports community-funded journalism) and was made possible in part by the donations of Spot.Us members. Visit www.spot.us for more details.


This Article was published by USA Today regarding health issues on Synthetic Lawns installed through out the United States. Any one in the Bay Area, East Bay, North Bay, South Bay, or Peninsula should read this before deciding whether an artificial lawn is the right choice for them.

I highly recommend installing Native Sod Lawn over Artificial Lawn for a variety of reasons in Marin, Tiburon, Sausalito, Mill Valley, San Mateo, San Jose, Saratoga, Danville, San Ramon, Las Altos, Palo Alto, Walnut Creek, Blackhawk, Fremont, Belvedeere, Campbell, Millbrae, Sonoma, and Napa Valley . Native Sod requires 50-90% less water, and along with being extremely drought tolerant, requires little to no maintenance and puts oxygen back into the environment, not toxins and pollutants like Artificial Turf.

Artificial turf: Health hazard?
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By Michael McCarthy and Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY
Since the 1960s, artificial turf has been installed on sports fields across the nation, touted as a more durable and cost-effective alternative to grass. Early synthetic surfaces — such as the short-bladed AstroTurf — have given way in recent years to longer-bladed versions designed to be softer and help prevent injuries.
But there are increasing concerns that some synthetic fields — particularly fraying AstroTurf surfaces that have been in place for years — are contaminated with lead and could pose a health hazard to children, athletes and others who use them.

A half-dozen artificial fields in New York and New Jersey as much as a decade old or more have been closed because of concern about high levels of lead in the turf fibers.

The threat of lead contamination in old turf has given a fresh platform to those raising red flags about newer types of artificial turf. These surfaces often include bits of recycled tires — known as “crumb rubber” — among the turf blades to provide a cushioned surface. They have been installed at thousands of schools, public parks and indoor sports facilities across the country, and more are scheduled.

The questions about both types of artificial turf have created ripples nationwide, prompting a federal investigation of artificial surfaces and raising anxiety among health and elected officials, some of whom want to ban new installations until government agencies study the potential health risks and environmental hazards.

“They’re in high schools, university stadiums, public parks. So it’s a public health issue,” says Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who helped prompt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to get involved. “It is more than the lead issue. It’s the crumb rubber” in the new types of turf.

Says New Jersey Assemblyman John Rooney, “A little foresight is worth a hell of a lot of regret down the road.”

The artificial turf industry has been trying to reassure current and prospective customers its products are safe while pointing out the newer generation of turf helps find a use for millions of used tires.

So far, the concern about lead is focused mostly on older, nylon fields built by AstroTurf’s former U.S. owner, Southwest Recreational Industries, which went out of business in 2004. During a news conference Monday in New York, the current marketers of AstroTurf said their products and those marketed by Southwest Recreational Industries are safe.

“In the last couple of weeks, the science (showing turf is safe) is being trumped by the perception, the fears, the uncertainty and doubts,” said Jon Pritchett, chief executive officer of GeneralSports Venue (GSV), the exclusive licensee for AstroTurf in the USA.

The closed fields include four New Jersey surfaces — in Jersey City, Newark, Hoboken and at the College of New Jersey in Ewing — as well as a high school field in Cicero, N.Y., that were found to contain high levels of lead. Another closed high school field in Liverpool, N.Y. is being tested.

New Jersey health officials discovered the lead, used in pigment to color some fields, in the turf fibers. Kids and athletes could be exposed by inhaling or swallowing lead-laced turf fibers or “dust” kicked up by those playing on the fields, state epidemiologist Eddy Bresnitz says.

There have been no known cases of illness attributed to the fields, but at least four of the closed fields will be torn up and replaced with new artificial surfaces.

Elsewhere, towns have begun limiting access to artificial turf fields by young children, who are most at risk from exposure to lead, which can cause brain damage and even death.

In Montville, N.J., for example, kids under 7 will not be permitted to play on two artificial turf fields that registered unsafe lead levels, pending further testing, township administrator Frank Bastone says.

Children under 6 are “most at risk from exposure to lead,” says Dale Kemery of the EPA, which along with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has launched an investigation of artificial turf fields.

Old turf triggers questions

The original AstroTurf installed at the Astrodome in Houston in 1966 was a hard, carpet-like surface. It quickly spread throughout the NFL and Major League Baseball because it gave multi-use stadiums a consistent playing surface and was easier and cheaper to maintain than grass.

Today, those old rugs have largely fallen by the wayside in stadiums used by professional and college teams. The carpets have been replaced in such arenas by natural grass and newer, more sophisticated types of artificial turf.

However, at some smaller stadiums used by high schools, on playgrounds and other places, old AstroTurf remains.

The newer fields usually are made from polyethylene and polypropylene, plastics commonly used to make everything from grocery bags to food containers, as well as nylon or a mix of materials. The fields mimic the look, feel and footing of natural turf, and they often feature longer strands of plastic “grass” and crumb rubber from recycled car and truck tires. These tiny bits of infill provide a springy cushion for kids and weekend warriors and can be kicked up just like dirt on a natural grass field.

The national investigation by the CPSC and the EPA will focus on all kinds of turf, not just nylon, CPSC spokeswoman Julie Vallese says. The agency already is collecting turf samples and expects to issue a report by early summer. “Our focus is on the risk to exposure from lead,” Vallese says.

Meanwhile, the concern over fake turf has triggered efforts by legislators in five states to get studies of potential health and environmental hazards done. Several schools and municipalities nationwide also are testing their fields.

There are 3,500 full-size, artificial fields in the USA, estimates Rick Doyle, president of the Synthetic Turf Council, a trade group. Such turf accounts for 900 to 1,000 installations a year but does not include smaller surfaces such as practice fields and playgrounds.

DeLauro and other officials worry about kids and athletes inhaling or swallowing the small rubber pellets. Environmentalists also have cited the pellets as a concern, questioning whether compounds from recycled tire rubber can run off the turf and pollute rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater.

Some colleges, including Ohio State and Western Carolina, are having their synthetic fields tested.

Separate bills in the New York, New Jersey and California legislatures would ban the installation of new fields until the completion of comprehensive health and environmental studies.

Connecticut Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said Wednesday that he is working with the commissioners of the state’s departments of public health and environmental protection to find a way to use existing funds for a study. In New York City, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum has called for an “immediate moratorium” on turf installations until the city completes a study on their “adverse” health effects.

Responding to a request from California State Sen. Abel Maldonado, Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office says it will study whether signs should be posted near synthetic fields warning that users could be exposed to toxic chemicals. The California Integrated Waste Management Board has told Maldonado it plans to evaluate whether crumb rubber fields release dangerous chemicals — or cause abrasions and bacterial infections more serious than those occurring on a natural surface. A bill by Minnesota State Rep. Phyllis Kahn also calls for a health study on the impacts of crumb rubber use.

Risks overblown, industry says

The artificial turf industry says the controversy is based mostly on scientifically flawed attacks and sensationalized claims of the risks associated with turf. At least one coach agrees that the issue has been blown out of proportion.

“Nobody talks about all the radon in the soil, and there are kids playing on that every day, breathing it in,” says Mark Zimmerman, an assistant football coach at McQueen High School in Reno.

One artificial turf maker is changing its manufacturing process to remove potential toxins.

Stephen P. Noe, president and CEO of Sportexe Construction Services, which has installed more than 200 full-size fields in the last three years, recently posted a note on the company’s website saying “a few colors” of its products “were produced using low levels of lead chromate-based pigments. … Going forward Sportexe will not be offering these heavy metal based color choices. We intend to substitute alternative colors based on non-heavy metal based pigments. … Although we do not see a health risk in the current products, we believe that this is the best decision for all of our constituents.”

GeneralSports Venue owner Michael Dennis says he has a contract to rip up the closed field in Newark and replace it with a new “PureGrass” system with lead-free nylon fibers. The company also will install a lead-free artificial baseball field in the city.

Shira Miller, a spokeswoman for the Synthetic Turf Council, said via e-mail Wednesday that manufacturers have been coming together to share information about standards and, “The STC welcomes the involvement of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the EPA and other groups since we are confident their scrutiny will answer the question of safety issues once and for all.”

FieldTurf Tarkett dominates the artificial turf industry with 1,900 U.S. fields. Ten NFL teams play their home games on the company’s products. The Montreal-based company has won the contract to replace the closed field at Hoboken’s Frank Sinatra Park. The polyethylene FieldTurf surfaces checked by New Jersey health officials contained trace amounts of lead and were deemed not harmful.

FieldTurf executives are frustrated that their polyethylene products keep getting lumped in with nylon fields built by a company that’s no longer in business.

“Our fields were tested and found to be about 50 times below what the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission allows in Mr. Potato Head or in Lego,” CEO Joe Fields said in a statement.

That’s good news, New York state Sen. Jim Alesi says. But he wants more proof before accepting the opinion of manufacturers or industry-paid scientists. “We need to have someone that’s not selling us the product tell us that it’s safe,” he says. “If what they’re saying is believable, then there’s nothing wrong with the old Ronald Reagan approach: trust but verify.”

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has launched a study to “assess the potential environmental impact from crumb rubber as an infill material,” spokeswoman Lori O’Connell says.

The upfront costs to install a synthetic field run from $400,000 to several million dollars. But the fields can last 10 years or more and withstand the kind of non-stop pounding that would turn a natural grass field into dirt.

The operator of at least one of the fields closed recently says he has “no choice” but to replace it with another synthetic surface. Densely populated urban areas have to use artificial fields, says Bob Hurley, director of parks and recreation for Jersey City, which has shut down its 11-year-old AstroTurf field in Cochrane Stadium at Caven Point after finding lead during testing.

The fake grass allows local teams to “play twice as many” football, baseball and soccer games, says Hurley, a well-known high school boys basketball coach at St. Anthony. “If it rains, half an hour later everything has soaked through and we’re able to play.”

Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club of New Jersey, says public officials and educators should be in the business of protecting children, he says, not squeezing in as many games as possible.

Says New York City’s Gotbaum: “If there’s no potential long-term or short-term effects that aren’t too serious, we’ll be the first to get out there and say, ‘Hey, it’s OK. Everybody get out and play.’ I’ll be the first person to do that. But I’m not there yet.”

Contributing: Tom Ankner; Tehani Schneider and Abbott Koloff of the (Morristown, N.J.) Daily Record; Chris Joyner of The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger; Matthew Daneman of the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle; Jordan Schrader of the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times; Jeff Martin of the (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader; Jeff Delong of the Reno Gazette-Journal

CKMS Landscape Development Installs Fencing for Contra Costa Community Garden, East Bay, Walnut Creek

Here is an article written in the Contra Costa Times on a fence we installed for the Contra Costa Community Garden.  Our landscape construction, landscape development division did a fantastic job.  CKMS Designed and installed the gopher/squirrel fence and has kept them out.  This can be done for any resident in the Bay Area, East Bay, North Bay, South Bay, or the Peninsula but especially for clients with gopher/squirrel problems like in Palo Alto, Saratoga, Danville, Alamo, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasonton, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Walnut Creek, Los Altos, Tiburon, Marin, Sausalito, Mill Valley, or Belvedeere.

Our Garden: Our new fence
By Joan Morris
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 09/09/2009 10:00:00 AM PDT
Updated: 09/09/2009 10:39:34 AM PDT

Our Garden now has Our Fence. And it’s working pretty well on “our squirrels.”

The fence, built of lumber and welded wire, is sort of a Taj Mahal of fences. I was expecting some steel posts and wire, but the folks at CK Management Systems and CK Landscape really went the extra mile, cementing thick posts into the ground, running the fencing around all four plots and finishing it off with two whisper-quiet gates.

Matt Cartwright, who was in charge of the project, even recycled our old not-so-great and certainly not-so-beautiful fencing. Work crews buried it 2 feet down to stop the ground squirrels from burrowing underneath.

At the same time, Matt’s brother, Alex, found an additive for our “fertigation” system that is supposed to keep the squirrels at bay. As you may remember, the Cartwrights donated our irrigation system earlier in the season. The fertigation consists of a small tank that mixes nutrients — and anti-squirrel stuff — into the water each time the sprinklers come on.

I checked out the fence the day after it went up and found signs our furry little friends already had been testing it. There were little holes started all around the perimeter. But the buried fencing thwarted them.

With a little help from a couple of volunteers, I’ve removed the remaining old fencing and the netting, meaning we now have free and easy access to the garden. To celebrate, we harvested 16 pounds of tomatoes for the Food Bank.

We have had an incursion into the garden, but the damage has been very light. In fact, I’m starting to suspect that instead of a squirrel getting in, we’ve got one inside that is trying to get out. I’ve found a couple of gnawed tomatoes and some test holes dug from inside the compound. And earlier in the week, I found a squirrel inside.

It ran around the edge of the fence, looking for an opening, and then it just disappeared amid the tomatoes. Because it never attempted to climb the fence, I think it disappeared down a hidey hole. The next step will be to set a humane trap, capture the little guy and then return him to his friends on the outside. And he better not break his parole.

Thanks so much to Matt, Alex and their father, Gary Cartwright, for their beyond generous contribution to Our Garden.

What you missed

We skipped the class because of the Labor Day weekend.

Our Garden online

Follow the progress of the garden and check out our how-to videos. Go to Contra CostaTimes.com/ourgarden or InsideBayArea.com/ourgarden. Follow Our Garden’s progress at twitter.com/gardeneditor.


The Bay Area News Group-East Bay thanks Our Garden’s sponsors:

Ace, Walnut Creek Hardware, 2044 Mt Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, 925-705-7500

Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority, 1111 Civic Drive, Suite 275, Walnut Creek, 925-906-1801, www.wastediversion.org.

CK Management Systems, 315 Diablo Road, Suite 220, Danville, 925-943-7323, www.cklandscape.com.

Contra Costa County Cooperative Extension and Master Gardeners

Hamilton Tree Service, 127 Aspen Drive No. 211, Pacheco, 925-228-1010

Marsha McCollum Leutza, representing Botanical Interests, 337 Cleveland Ave., Petaluma, 94958

Merlot Nursery, 701 Northgate Road, Walnut Creek, 925-943-1958

Monster Worms, Dave Anderson, P.O. Box 1211, Antioch, CA 94509, 925-890-5773, MonsterWorms.com.

Mt. Diablo Nursery, 3295 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 925-283-3830

Orchard Nursery, 4010 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 925-284-4474

Contra Costa Community Garden, Fertigation, Irrigation Installation in Walnut Creek, CA

Smart Clock Installation, Fertigation System, MP Rotators, water efficient irrigation systems we installed for Contra Costa Community Vegetable Garden in East Bay, Walnut Creek

Our Garden: Our irrigation system
By Joan Morris
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 06/25/2009 02:00:00 PM PDT
Updated: 06/26/2009 12:47:35 PM PDT

What’s new

The talk about Our Garden has been about the new irrigation system donated and installed by CK Management Systems of Danville. It’s estimated to save us 50 percent of water use, and each time it comes on it’s “fertigating” the garden.

Here’s how it works. Incorporated in the system is a small tank that contains a two-month supply of organic fertilizer, bio-stimulants, nutrients and a little something that supposed to keep the squirrels at bay (more on that later).

The fertigation mixture is dispersed in tiny amount each time the water comes on, and because it’s being mixed with the water and put directly on the plants, it has 100 percent absorption.

Three of our four plots are now hooked up to the system. We ran into some problems with a water leak before the fourth one went in, but the work will be completed soon. Each bed has a different type of system. Bed No. 2 has variable flow microsprays, Bed No. 3 has multi-stream adjustable bubblers, and Bed No. 4 MP (match precipitation) rotators.

In addition to the systems, we also now own a weather station, which sounds much more impressive than it looks. It’s a white contraption not much bigger than a soda can, but it collects details on temperature, humidity, light, wind and a dozen other tidbits and relays them every five minutes to a “smart” clock.

The clock is programmed with information about the garden, from its longitude and latitude to
the type of garden we have. Using the programming and the information supplied by the miniature weather station, it decides when and how much to water.

Alex Cartwright, president of CK Management, and his team installed the system so expertly that when I showed up at Our Garden on Monday, I thought they hadn’t been able to do the work on Saturday. Our fences and bird netting were still in place, and the mulched pathways between rows looked exactly as I’d left them. It was only as I was walking around the garden checking on the plants that I noticed the emitters.

The company deals not only in irrigation systems but also gray water, rain water catchment and subterranean drip systems. Their generous contribution to Our Garden will go a long way to ensure our success not only this season, but for many more to come.

It also means that Master Gardener Russell Jones, who had been volunteering to hand-water the garden every day since we started, now has a bit more time to devote to his own garden. We send much thanks with him.

In other big news of the day, we had our first harvest last week. Volunteers gathered 10 zucchini and a handful of beans, which were sent off to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano along with a promise that more is on the way.

Squirrel update. I knew it was tempting to fate to say we had the squirrels under control. The minute they read that, they donned gas masks and bunny suits, fought their way through the fumes and ate, down to the ground, a small stand of chard that a volunteer had donated from her garden.

After that, they started on the newly planted cucumbers and beans, as well as most of the marigolds.

We suspected that all of the work done putting in the irrigation system disturbed the aroma barricade we’d erected, so we’ve reapplied it and hoped that it, along with the fertigation treatments, will keep the wee beasties away. But no. We’re moving on to another plan, whenever we think of one. I long ago accepted the fact that we are at war, and there is no end in sight.

What you missed

Last week’s class was compost tea. Bethallyn Black, with UC Cooperative Extension’s Contra Costa County Master Gardener program, brought in compost she’d bought dirt cheap from the Walnut Creek Recycling Center (check with your local waste management company to see if they also sell compost). Using a recipe of one part compost to 10 parts water, Black stirred up a tea that was then served to our Three Sisters plants.

Ideally, compost tea is “brewed” using an aerator, but Black says that stirring the solution for an hour can achieve passable results. The important thing is keep the compost suspended in solution, and to create an aerobic brew by agitating the water.

Also, Master Gardener Kathleen Rosania and her husband demonstrated a fast, easy and very cool way to build a trellis for our beans. Using three lengths of aluminum half-inch electrical conduit pipe, two elbow connectors, two pieces of rebar and a nylon trellis netting.

The pipes are sold in 10 foot lengths, so cut them in half. Use the elbow joints to connect a top bar to two sides, tie the netting in place and set the frame over the lengths of rebar, which have already been pressed into the ground.

You end up with a very sturdy, functional trellis that you can take down after the season, take apart and store until the next year. We now have two in Our Garden.

How our garden grows

Everything is looking good as the newer plants start to settle in and grow, and the older ones start blooming and producing. We’re anxious to see what the fertigation will mean for growth and production.

Our Garden online

Follow the progress of the garden and check out our how-to videos. Go to Contra CostaTimes.com/our garden or InsideBayArea.com/ ourgarden. Follow Our Garden’s progress on Twitter at twitter.com/gardeneditor.

Harvested stormwater counters climate change, Rainwater Catchment Bay Area, East Bay, Danville, Oakland, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, BlackHawk

Very Interesting stuff on Rainwater Catchment systems, which we install, and Water Conservation for all of California but especially for Bay Area, East Bay, Contra Costa, Walnut Creek, Danville, Palo Alto, Peninsula, and Oakland Residents.

By Suzanne Bohan
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 08/16/2009 12:00:00 AM PDT

Stormwater flowing off rain gutters, sidewalks and roadways may be the state’s new liquid gold as Californians face shrinking water supplies due to rising temperatures, a new report asserts.

“In Western states, there’s been an increasing push to see this as a water supply resource,” said Noah Garrison, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council who co-authored the report, “A Clear Blue Future,” released last week.

Garrison teamed with UC Santa Barbara and University of Washington researchers to release this analysis of how rainwater capture or infiltration projects could make up for water shortages attributed to altered weather.

By 2050, winters cut short by climate change are expected to reduce by one-quarter the snowpack in the Sierra, according to the state Department of Water Resources, with greater depletion projected in the decades beyond. As these vast fields of high-mountain snow melt during the spring, summer and fall, they provide a steady source of pristine water to rivers heading to the lowlands, which replenish reservoirs supplying tap water used by millions.

Stormwater that’s usually dumped into the nearest waterway could fill a critical gap in this predicted shortfall, the new report states.

For the areas studied — urbanized regions of Southern California and portions of the Bay Area — capturing more of this rainwater at residential and commercial sites could net


more than 400,000 acre-feet of water a year, enough to supply two-thirds of the water used annually by the city of Los Angeles. If government and industrial sites were added to the equation, the water savings projection for those regions alone would increase by another 75,000 acre-feet annually. Hundreds of thousands more acre-feet of water are likely available if the rest of the state is factored in, Garrison said.

And capturing rainwater in cisterns or barrels, or diverting it into open fields, rain gardens or ponds, keeps it from entering the stormwater runoff system, which now contributes the majority of the pollutants fouling natural bodies of water.

It’s not news that rainwater runoff entering stormwater systems, and then creeks, rivers, bays and ultimately the Pacific, arrives laden with the detritus of city and suburban life — particles of heavy metals such as copper and mercury, PCBs, excess pesticides and fertilizers from gardeners and farmers, pathogens in pet waste, and plastic-laden trash.

In late July, the Natural Resources Defense Council released its 19th annual report on beach water contamination, which reported that polluted water from dirty stormwater and sewage overflows led to 20,000 beach closures or posted health advisories nationwide in 2008, a figure unchanged for four years.

Pollutants in the water

In California, 8 percent of the beaches tested for pollutants — primarily high bacterial levels — exceeded national standards, with a handful of the worst offenders closed or posted with advisories more than half the time. Most were at the numerous swimming beaches in Southern California, although in the Bay Area a few areas, such as Candlestick Point in San Francisco and Campbell Cove State Beach in Sonoma County, exceeded standards a third of the time. On the Peninsula, volunteers with the San Mateo chapter of a coastal advocacy group, Surfrider Foundation, conduct weekly water tests to protect surfers and other coastal water users from illnesses triggered by pathogens swept into the ocean by runoff.

“There are chronically polluted places,” said Edmundo Larenas, head of the San Mateo chapter.

Within the past decade or so, however, a new way of addressing stormwater pollution emerged using a technique called “low impact development,” or LID. The generic-sounding term refers to strategies for restoring native hydrology to a developed site, in that no more water runs off it during a storm than would if the site were undeveloped.

Under that scenario, rainfall hitting a developed area may be directed so that it sinks into the ground. In addition, the microbes in the soil and plants serve as “biofilters,” trapping such pollutants as heavy metals and chemicals, and converting them to less harmful substances or absorbing them.

“The ability of soil and vegetation to really filter out pollutants is absolutely amazing,” Garrison said.

Bay Area at forefront

The Bay Area now has scores of small and large biofiltration projects for capturing stormwater. For example, in San Mateo County, a $4 increase in registration fees for vehicles in the county, passed in 2005, is funding six pilot “green stormwater” projects. These include rain gardens and swales — long, narrow, vegetated depressions designed to hold and filter water — at Brisbane’s City Hall and next to the parking lot at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach.

In Walnut Creek, North Creek Church added a rain garden when it built a new church in 2008. At Mission Bay in San Francisco, swales create a small wetland that filters stormwater before it enters the Bay. And a parking lot overlooking Lake Merced in San Francisco features permeable pavement that lets rainwater sink into the ground, recharging the lake and an aquifer.

Other cities are pushing even harder to divert rainwater from the stormwater system. In Portland, Ore., the city’s Clean River Rewards program gives residents a discount on their utility bills for managing stormwater on their property. And in 2004, 76 percent of Los Angeles voters approved a $500 million bond measure to fund low impact development projects for capturing polluted stormwater before it fouls the region’s famed beaches.

A representative with the California Building Industry Association said no one was available to comment on the effect of low impact development requirements, which in the Bay Area and other regions apply to large development projects.

The use of rain barrels or cisterns to capture precipitation is another key technique in low impact development. Last year, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission set aside $10,000 to subsidize the cost of 55-gallon rain barrels, so city residents paid $69 instead of $129. The funds were quickly depleted, and the agency plans to expand the program this year, commission spokesman Tyrone Jue said.

Juan Fuentes, an artist who lives with his family in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, said he’s delighted with the rain barrel he got from the program. It sits below a downspout next to his studio.

“I’m really excited about getting four or five next year,” Fuentes said. With that many, he expects to water his garden and a neighbor’s for the season.

“We won’t have to rely on faucet water,” he said. A sequence of rain barrels is also easy to set up and maintain, Fuentes added.

Conservation in action

At Mills College in Oakland, a 2,000-gallon container stores rainwater for the Natural Sciences Building, which opened in 2007. The water is used for the building’s toilets, and harvests as much as 60,000 gallons a year, as the water is used and then replenished by rainstorms. The new Graduate School of Business, opening this fall, has a 4,000-gallon cistern for holding runoff that will also supply the building’s toilets.

The growing numbers of low impact development projects were often designed with stormwater pollution-prevention in mind, but they have the added advantage of providing a critical new source of water as California’s population increases, but water supplies from the Sierra are expected to decrease, said Garrison, with the Natural Resources Defense Council. They can also provide an emergency supply of water in the event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, or a fire.

“LID was first simply developed as a way to eliminate pollution,” he said. “The second benefit that’s equal, if not more important, is it provides a safe, reliable water supply.”

In addition to easing pressure on the state’s overtaxed water system, rain that is harvested or directed to replenish underground water saves a substantial amount of energy, Garrison said.

The Department of Water Resources is the largest single user of electricity in the state, as it uses power to distribute water statewide, pumping it over such mountain ranges as the Tehachapi to reach Los Angeles. The Natural Resources Defense Council and others are pointing to low impact development, since it captures water locally, as a way to help reach greenhouse gas reductions called for by Assembly Bill 32, the 2006 state law that mandates greenhouse emissions by 2020 drop to 1990 levels. It’s also a cost-effective alternative to building ocean desalination plants, Garrison said, with none of the concerns about the plants’ effects on marine life, or their massive energy requirements.

Tom Mumley, assistant executive officer for the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, which regulates water quality in the region, also noted the water-saving benefit of capturing rainwater, in addition to its critical role in pollution prevention.

“It all adds up,” he said. “It’s so logical.”

The Strategies
Rain barrels — These containers, usually 55-gallon drums made of durable plastic, are directly fed by downspouts. A spigot at the bottom fits a garden hose, and gravity forces out the water. The barrels include a mesh covering to prevent insects, such as mosquitoes, from entering.
Diverting runoff — A simple method for reducing stormwater runoff is attaching a large tube to a downspout, and directing the water to a wide, unpaved area where it can spread out and infiltrate the soil.
rain gardenS — These gardens are planted in depressed areas near buildings’ downspouts, which allows them to capture rainwater and let it slowly soak into the ground. They’re designed to withstand extremes in moisture. Riparian plants, adapted to grow along streams, are well suited for rain gardens.
For details, go to the Low Impact Development Center’s Web site, www.lowimpactdevelopment.org.

The Report
To view the report, “A Clear Blue Future: How Greening California Cities Can Address Water Resources and Climate Challenges in the 21st Century,” go to www.nrdc.org.

Landscaping Design Ideas That Are Ideal For Your Home – Atherton, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Silicon valley

A great article with landscape development ideas that will work espescially well for my clients in Atherton, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Mountain View and Silicon valley.

Landscape Development

Landscape Development

Landscaping is one of the most excellent methods by which you can change your property or home. It is one of the most effective ways to make your home a beautiful place to live in. It enhances your living standard and brings a great deal of enjoyment and delight to the whole family. There are a lot of ideas when it comes to landscaping designs that add appeal to your garden or your lawn.

Landscaping design ideas are even available at hardware stores or you can visit a plant nursery in your area to get some ideas. You may also apply your own landscape ideas, but if you are considering a very large area for landscape development, it is best to get the advice and assistance from an expert landscape architect or designer, as he will have a lot of experience in this area.

The alternatives for the ideas related to landscape designing are limitless. Your design may include garden beds, a patio, a swimming pool and pebbled walkways. The entire result will be dependent on how creative you are in your planning and layout. Below are a few landscaping design ideas that can prove helpful to you.

A water feature is a very good idea and very popular. By adding a mini waterfall, a fountain or a fishpond you can enhance the look of the area and this will be very relaxing and appealing.

A swimming pool is another feature that you can think of to add beauty to your garden. You could install a swimming pool that is in-ground or the one that is an aboveground pool. A swimming pool is ideal for the summer season. The entire family can have a lot of fun. Outdoor hot tubs and spas are getting very popular these days. They are ideal for the winter season.

Play areas for kids is another well known landscaping design idea these days. You may add swings, slides, monkey bars, a seesaw and a sand pit to a small area in your garden making it pleasurable for the kids.

A vegetable and fruit plot is another good idea for a healthy life. This will not only help you maintain a healthy life but tending the garden is good exercise. A kitchen garden adds a lot of appeal to your home.

A bird-feeding place will bring a whole lot of fun to the entire family. Adding wild life to a portion of your garden can be very exciting. You may enjoy looking at the birds while you feed them.

The other idea for your landscape design is the use of driveway pavers – these pavers are very useful if you park outdoors. Pavers make the driveway less slippery during the rains.

These are just a few ideas to improve your property or your home. It is best to seek assistance from an expert who has knowledge and has a lot of experience in landscaping.

Milos Pesic is an expert in the field of Landscaping and Gardening and runs a highly popular and comprehensive Landscaping web site. For more articles and resources on landscaping designs, landscape ideas, garden landscaping and much more visit his site at: http://landscaping.need-to-know.net/

Plants that Repel Mosquitoes- East Contra Costa, Marin, Alameda

A fun blog that I found at KeenforGreen.com about mosquitos.  Plants can act better than off.  Another great gardening tip for East Contra Costa, Marin, Alameda provided by CKMS.

Anyone who lives somewhere with hot, muggy summers knows how mosquitoes can ruin an otherwise lovely hot summer evening.  How many times have you been sitting in the backyard swatting and scratching because of those pesky skeeters?

Sure, you can slather on the OFF! with all that lovely DEET.  Or you can strategically position citronella candles around yourself.

OR you can plant some things that repel mosquitoes naturally!

My favorite?  Basil. I love basil anyway, so finding out it keeps mosquitoes away made me enthusiastic to plant some.  So, plant some basil, repel some mosquitoes, and then make some pesto.  Yum!

Another choice is catnip.  Just beware, your backyard might become the hang out for all the neighborhood kitties.  But the good thing about catnip is that you can give it to your cat or you can make tea out of it for yourself.

Another tasty one is rosemary.   Mmm…rosemary!!  Rosemary is a tropical plant, so keep it potted and store it in your kitchen in the winter.

And lastly, marigolds.   Marigolds are great little flowers.  They keep all sorts of pests away.  They’ll keep bugs out of your veggie garden, too.  I planted them all over my garden this year!

Still getting eaten alive and wary of the DEET?  Read the Mother Earth News recipe for homemade mosquito repellent.

Please feel free to add any other non-toxic tips for keeping those pests far, far away from your skin!

Originally posted at KeenforGreen.com.

Everything You Need To Know About Sprinkler Systems & More- San Francisco Bay Landscape Development

These are some of the services that CKMS provides throughout Northern California, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco, North Bay, Peninsula, East Bay, San Jose, Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz and San Benito.  Smart irrigation is a key to any landscaping project and a green and cost effective solution for homeowners.  It is also is becoming mandatory throughout Northern California, so why not stay ahead of the curve.  Now an example of our workmanship and the original article.

Site Development, Soil Preparation/Grading, Irrigation Installation, Shrub/Tree Installation and Relocation, Decorative Concrete, Water Features, Artificial Turf, Hardscapes, Design - Build, Decking/Fences, Northern California, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco, North Bay, Peninsula, East Bay, San Jose, Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz, San Benito
Site Development, Soil Preparation/Grading, Irrigation Installation, Shrub/Tree Installation and Relocation, Decorative Concrete, Water Features, Artificial Turf, Hardscapes, Design – Build, Decking/Fences, Northern California, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco, North Bay, Peninsula, East Bay, San Jose, Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz, San Benito

Installing a sprinkler or irrigation system for your lawn &/or garden is perhaps one of the few home improvement projects that actually makes your life much easier. Hand watering gardens, flower beds, or lawns-moving a lawn sprinkler attached to the hose every 20 minutes-is not most homeowners’ idea of fun.

A sprinkler system automates this entire process while eliminating the concern of whether or not your yard is getting the proper amount of water it needs. Hand watering or using an oscillator, takes more time, wastes water, and leaves areas of your yard either over-watered or under-watered. And, generally speaking, only about 60% of the water you spray at your lawn actually does any good. A properly designed and installed sprinkler system addresses all these concerns.

Basic Sprinkler System Operation

At its most rudimentary level, a sprinkler system consists of a relatively few main components. We’ll start with the controller. This is an electronic, computerized unit that is the “brains” behind the sprinkler system. The controller utilizes a timer that tells your system which set of sprinkler heads need to turn on when, and for how long. It is connected to a set of valves that regulate the flow of water into a specific “zone” in your sprinkler system. The valves are tied directly into your water system and act like faucets that turn off and on when told to by the controller.

These valves then feed water into the rest of the sprinkler system, which is typically composed of undersurface pipes that lead to the actual sprinkler heads. The sprinkler heads are normally placed near ground level when not in use, and then pop-up when the water pressure fills the pipes that feed them…so there you have it, the essence of a sprinkler system.

Although there a number of “do-it-yourself” sprinkler system kits on the market, the complexity of a properly designed, installed and maintained system, precludes the ability and expertise of the average homeowner. For instance, how many homeowners would know what the local regulations and specifications are? Are there permits required? Which backflow device is needed for the specific application; PVB, RP or double check? Is PVC or poly pipe called for? How many and what type of valves are needed? What type of rotor heads do you need; stream rotors, gear driven rotors or impact-style rotors, and where do you place them? And what about”spray” or “mist” type heads, drip irrigation, rain sensors, etc. etc.

A qualified, professional contractor will know the answers to these questions and many others. The contractor will also be able analyze everything from your soil conditions to which parts of your yard get the most sun and/or shade. The professional will also consider the slope of your property, the various types of landscaping you have and their water requirements as he plans and designs an efficient system for your home.

Zoning Your Lawn

Irrigation zones are an element of landscape irrigation design that allows your system to target water distribution with precision. The premise behind the landscape irrigation design concept of “irrigation zones” is a simple element of planning the system. Zoning basically ensures that Zone A of your lawn should get X amount of water while Zone B should only receive Y amount, and so on.

Establishing irrigation zones allows your sprinkler system to be programmed accordingly. This ability to discharge more precise amounts of water in a targeted area further promotes water conservation and costs savings.

Sprinkler System Water Conservation Tips

Did you ever dream that you could actually save water through the use of an irrigation system? Perhaps not. But an irrigation system that is properly designed, installed and maintained, will help minimize the amount of water you use, while keeping your lawn and landscape looking good and healthy.

Here a few tips to help you have a lush, green landscape without draining the rivers and your bank account…

1. Don’t drown everything.

The greatest waste of water comes from applying too much, too often. Much of the water is never absorbed. Instead of watering for a long session, water a few times for shorter periods and take 15-minute breaks between each session. This will allow time for the water to soak in, while minimizing run off. (Especially in the hard clay soil of our area).

2. Watch the clock.

Optimum watering hours are from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., when the sun is low winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Midday watering tends to be less efficient due to water loss through evaporation and windy conditions during the day. Watering during evening hours isn’t the best idea either. Wet lawns and plant leaves can remain wet overnight-an irresistible invitation for fungus and other diseases to develop and grow. Watering during early morning hours allows everything to dry out throughout the day.

3. Divide by zones.

Different plants need different amounts of water. Divide your yard and landscape areas into separate irrigation zones so grass can be watered separately and more frequently than groundcovers, shrubs and trees. Both sprinkler and drip irrigation can be incorporated to achieve more efficient use of water.

4. Water only things that grow.

With a subsurface sprinkler system, proper sprinkler head alignment is paramount in order to water only living plants, not sidewalks, driveways or the street. A properly adjusted sprinkler head should spray large droplets of water instead of a fine mist. This will minimize evaporation and wind drift.

5. Consider dripping.

When it comes to watering individual trees, flowerbeds, potted containers or other non-grassy areas, consider applying water directly to the roots using low volume drip irrigation. This approach will reduce water waste from evaporation or runoff. It will also prevent unwanted weeds from growing. A basic drip system consists of a series of tubes that have holes at intervals. The location of the open holes is tailored to irrigate specific plants more efficiently. For instance, if you have certain plants spaced at two-foot intervals, the corresponding holes in the drip system will also be spaced at two-foot intervals. Water will be distributed only where the plants are stationed and not in the areas between them.

6. Perform routine inspections.

If you’re watering at the proper time of day (early morning hours), a problem may occur and not be discovered until it is too late. Periodically examining your sprinklers to make certain everything is in proper working order can save a lot of headaches. A clogged head or a torn line can wreak havoc on your landscape and water bill.

7. Be rain and season smart.

Always adjust your sprinkler system as the seasons and the weather change. An easy way to accomplish this is to install a shut-off device in your system that automatically detects rain or moisture. These devices are relatively inexpensive and enable you to take advantage of Mother Nature’s watering without having to pay for it.

Approximate Cost of a Sprinkler System

The cost of an automatic sprinkler system depends mainly on two factors-the size of your lawn or yard to be irrigated (ie, how much pipe needs to be laid, how many physical sprinkler heads are needed) and the components you choose to build your system. For a 2500 sq. ft. lawn, you could expect a figure of around $2000-$2500 for an underground sprinkler system.

However, as you go up in size, costs do not increase at the same rate since you have already paid for the plumbing connection to the water system, the controller, etc. So a 5000 sq. ft. lawn might only be $3500. Another ballpark figure to use is $600-$700 per zone (a zone is an area where the sprinklers all operate at one time – due to water pressure and volume issues, normally 5-10 sprinkler heads operate at a time – a zone usually consumes 10-15 gallons of water per minute), so a 5 zone system would run somewhere around $3,000 to $3,500.

If you considered subsurface irrigation even a few years ago, you were probably discouraged by the expense and complexity of the installation. In the past few years, dramatic improvements have been made in both the materials used and installation techniques. These enhancements have reduced the cost significantly.

With subsurface irrigation, the water is applied at a slower rate but for a longer period of time. The slower application rate means that your sprinkler zones can be significantly larger. For example, a medium sized yard might need 8 zones with an above ground system where the subsurface irrigation system might only need 3 or 4 zones. Fewer zones mean fewer control valves, a fewer heads and a less expensive timer. All of these things can add up to significant cost savings.

Choosing a Contractor

Any reputable contractor will provide you with a plan diagram and estimates on cost and time. Be certain to inquire about warranty, types of products used and service/maintenance issues, including winterization. Make sure the contractor can provide references and is insured, bonded and licensed.

It is in everyone’s best interest to conserve water whenever possible. Since a subsurface irrigation system can save you from 30 to 70 percent in lawn water usage, it can benefit the environment as well as your bank account. So, if a new or upgraded sprinkler system is in your plans, contact a qualified contractor for more information.

This article originally appeared in Home Improvement Resource Magazine. Home Improvement Resource Magazine is a bi-monthly publication serving the Kansas City Metropolitan area. Home Improvement Resource’s editorial content covers every issue of home improvement and design concerns for homeowners. Whether it’s kitchen remodeling, bath remodeling, interior decorating, repair and maintenance issues, appliances, home theater…whatever! If it has to do with the home, we provide the latest information about it. Visit http://www.hirkc.com to learn more and to read other interesting articles. All of our articles are available for reprint with appropriate links to our site. For a free subscription to the print version of Home Improvement Resource, a full color, glossy magazine format publication, contact the publisher, R.J. Scott at rjsmedia8@comcast.net

CKMS serves Northern California, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco, North Bay, Peninsula, East Bay, San Jose, Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz, San Benito.

Choosing Fertilizer Systems- Alameda, Oakland, Fremont, Pleasanton

Another great article about similar fertilizer system that we install all over Alameda County including in Oakland, Fremont & Pleasanton.

Fertilizer systems, also known as fertigation, are used in conjunction with irrigation systems to disburse fertilizer or nutrients to plants or crops to help them grow strong and healthy. This process has many different advantages over applying fertilizer by hand, including the fact that it is less messy. Another advantage is that it is much more efficient, because it delivers the fertilizer directly to the plant in small doses, which is much healthier than one-time treatments. There are some things that you want to consider if you are thinking of using a fertilizer system.

If your irrigation system is not installed correctly, you will have issues with any fertilizer system that you choose. Applying fertilizer in a way that is not quite safe can cause issues with your lawn or garden, including patches and more. If it is not installed correctly, it may not reach the plants as well, so you want to be sure that your irrigation system is carefully planned out and installed. This will ensure that your fertilizer is disbursed safely and with great efficiency to make your plants and crops healthier.

Make sure that you understand exactly how much fertilizer or nutrients you should use. Too much fertilizer will not be good for the growth areas and can actually cause them harm. By doing your research, reading directions carefully, and asking questions when you are not sure, you are sure to find the right way to fertilize your lawn or garden to make a difference in the growth patterns and the amount that you harvest.

When choosing a fertilizer system, you want to be sure that you choose one that you can easily use. There are several different ones on the market for you to choose from. Some fertilizer systems automatically do the mixing when the irrigation system is turned on and disburses the fertilizer completely. They can be easily adjusted to fertilize a large or small area, so that you can fertilizer your lawn or garden, no matter what its size. You only have to fill some of the systems every few months to keep your lawn or garden growing and flourishing.

Using fertilizer systems can help you to use much less fertilizer and chemicals on your lawn, because there is much less waste when it is being delivered via water. The water and the fertilizer or nutrients are drawn up into the roots system, rather than lying on the ground where it can be wasted due to run-off, etc. The plants will be healthier because the fertilizer or nutrients are much easier to absorb as well.

No matter what kind of fertilizer system that you choose for your lawn or garden, you will be sure to find that it is simple and easy to fertilize your lawn or garden by using it. This can make taking care of these areas much simpler, which means that you will have time to do other activities that you can enjoy. Consider a fertilizer system for your home or business today.

GreenMarkIrrigation.com is the largest wholesale dealer and distributor for Fertilizer Systems and sprinklers.

What Good Are Fertigator Fertilizer Systems? – Danville, CA

A great article that explains the concept of fertigation systems.  These are the type of systems that we install all over the bay area including in Danville, CA.  If you want to go green and have a green lawn this might be your best solution.

Fertigator Fertilizer systems are a type of fertigation system. Fertigation, usually used among landscapers, is a type of automatic fertilizer injection system that can be connected to any in-ground sprinkler system. You might consider this process as a form of “spoon feeding” your soil, since the objective is to send small amounts of fertilizer through an irrigation system each time the system becomes active. The actual process of fertigation has been used in agriculture for over three decades. Even other retail industries have begun using this technology to their advantage.

Fertigator Fertilizer systems refer to a type of fertigation system and one that is sold by the Fertigator Company to consumers or commercial businesses. Fertigator Fertilizer systems are becoming increasingly popular by both personal and professional markets who appreciate the simplicity involved. What are the benefits of these systems? The technology involved (supplying plants with small amounts of fertilizer on a consistent basic and through an irrigation system) allows plants to thrive in a healthier environment. The fertigation process keeps nutrients flowing regularly, and plans need these nutrients if they are to grow. Some landscapers might recommend slow-release fertilizers instead of fertigation systems (since seemingly, these fertilizers would perform the same action), however, these systems are more time consuming and tend to be on the expensive side.

When you compare Fertigator Fertilizer systems to the “traditional” way of monthly fertilizing lawns then you also see a huge difference. Traditional fertilization tends to overfeed plants, as plants use up most of the nutrients in the first few days following treatment. (Sort of like your goldfish) So essentially, after some time passes, you “starve” your lawn of these nutrients, at least until you administer treatment a second time. Feast or famine, indeed. Traditional fertilizer also uses a heavy amount of chemicals. Unnatural chemicals plus long starvation periods plus initial overfeeding does not exactly prime your lawn for its fullest potential. Besides, this unhealthy process is also very time-consuming for the average homeowner.

Fertigator Fertilizer systems are a welcomed relief to anyone who has ever toiled over the traditional irrigation process. Fertigator Fertilizer systems automatically fertilize your lawn every time the sprinkler system comes on. This process feeds plants nutrients on a regular basis so that both overfeeding and starvation effects are eliminated. The company also arranges for some types of maintenance, for example, state-licensed pest control. However, much of the maintenance you would expect is not needed because the fertilizer is organic and has natural weed repellants. All the maintenance that is really necessary is that you refill the fertilizer container. All in all, Fertigator Fertilizer systems are designed to be mostly maintenance free.

FertiGator products are available at over 500 wholesale distributors, as well as through online purchase. The company also works with contractors so customers have the option of professional installation, though DIYers should have no problem. If you are looking for a convenient and healthy solution to lawn irrigation, then dig into Fertigator Fertilizer systems for the best results.

Richard Gilliland is VP of GreenMarkIrrigation.com a online wholesale distributor of Fertigator fertilizer systems and Irrigation Supplies fertilizer systems.