Landscape Survival Pt. 3


Jul 09 Landscape Survival Guide (Pt 3)

Before we get started, I want to thank everyone for their response to my editorials. I have received many kind comments about the benefits of the topics I have been writing about. For those of you who are new to the magazine, please view my past articles (since February) at on a range of top ics pertaining to proper landscaping, maintenance, and this current series on keeping landscapes green and thriving with less water. This series is especially pertinent because of older communities being retrofitted with water meters (we just had one of the H.O.A’s we maintain con verted over). So in combination with June’s editorial, this information will have the greatest effect on saving water, while still watering well and minimizing run off. It is relatively inexpensive and has immediate benefits.

In June, I gave my opinion that the Buffalo grass and Bent grass are the lawns of the future; this is also true of this product. It is a highly efficient nozzle that is retrofitted to existing popup sprinklers (if you have irrigation older than 20 years, with the brass popups, they will have to be replaced). I have spoken on the MP Rotor nozzles before, but never in great depth. It was originally developed by an Australian company, then purchased by Nelson Irrigation (an American firm) and ultimately all rights were bought by Hunter Irrigation.

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The “MP” stands for the main feature of the nozzle. M stands for “matched” and P stands for “precipitation” so by definition it is a nozzle that’s precipitation is matched to the soil’s ability to receive moisture. Let me explain, soil can only receive moisture, be it via a sprinkler system or rain at a specific rate. When too much water is put on, we have “runoff,” water waste. I see this every morning as I drive to work, lawns being watered with lots of that water running down the gutters. Aside from overspray, and or crooked sprinklers, the water that is being applied exceeds the rate that the soil can absorb it.

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In South Sacramento where the clay content is so high, that you could make a pot out of it, the problem is even worse. In rural areas, or areas running off of well water, oftentimes the psi (pounds per square inch, a measurement used to determine irrigation system construction) is so low, that getting proper coverage with conventional nozzles is a problem. Also many of these areas have sloping terrain, where the water just runs off. We just retrofitted a new client in Penryn that had this problem, and the MP nozzles improved the water pressure, the coverage and water penetration into the soil. So the client is happy, the plants are becoming happy, and of course, that makes me happy as well.

How does it do it, would be a question I would be asking about now? Well, I’m glad you asked. The easiest way to explain it is to compare current nozzles to the MP nozzle. A popular nozzle is the 12H. The 12 stands for the distance it waters, and H for the pattern it waters (H is for a half, as in half a circle). A 12H waters 1.32 gallons per minute (gpm), so in 10 minutes, the average run time for lawns with pop ups, would be 13.2 gallons. The average amount of sprinklers on one valve is about 10 (some have up to 13, but for our explanation we will stay with round numbers). So if one sprinkler puts out 13.2 gallons in 10 minutes, when you multiply that by 10 sprinklers you have 132 gallons. That’s a fair amount of water to use in 10 minutes. Multiply that by all the lawn valves and then the number of days watering, and you get a good idea of the number of gallons that are being used, figuring about 20% to 40% is being wasted. It’s quite surprising when the math is done (a side note, at the start of runoff, from that point on, all the water is wasted). Now the “star of the show,” with stats that are so impressive that it’s hard to believe. The MP has a .35 gpm, in other words, in one minute’s time it waters 1/3 of a gallon of water. That is one gallon less a minute than the standard nozzles! Now because it puts out less water, it means you have to water longer. Hunter recommends that you start out by doubling your time. So let’s take our same example, double the time, and do the math. In 20 minutes, the MP will water 7 gallons (20 x .35), 10 MP nozzles will water 70 gallons. That is a savings of 62 gallons with minimal or no runoff but watered well, just for that valve! That’s huge.

Another feature that makes it superior is its ability to cover the area evenly. With conventional nozzles, if you take 20 pie plates and spread them evenly over the lawn area and water for 10 minutes, you will find that some will be really full, some half full and some just barely (the “barely” areas are your brown spots in the summer). With the MP in the same test you will find a consistent pattern throughout varying only slightly (both examples assume that sprinkler distances are consistent according to specs). These are the two strong features of this new nozzle, other aspects are that it rotates, and has long, medium and short stream sprays, hence the reason for it’s high coverage rate. Cost, retail is $10 to $12 dollars depending upon where you go. They can only be purchased at specialty stores, such as Ewing, Horizon or John Deere. There is a learning curve to installing them, but it’s not “rocket science.” If you need our help, we would be glad to help. Please remember we are both a residential landscape and maintenance company, we appreciate greatly the community’s support, and are developing new avenues to better service and meet the varied needs of our community.

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I am now going to change topics completely. Those of you that have been reading my editorials have a “good read” on the person that I am, and know that I have used the editorials to educate and help, and not just talk about Executive Care Landscape. So here we go. I have lost two bids in the last couple of weeks, due to lower bids. I left feeling a bit stung, bummed out because I was excited for the opportunity to get to know the clients better, and develop and bless them with a landscape that would have “knocked their socks off.” I had it all planned in my mind, and it was beautiful. Well I came back a couple weeks later to look at the landscape, and to be honest, I was shocked. The landscaper copied my design for the lawn, spaced plants too far apart, but the greater wrong was that he under engineered the drip irrigation for the plants. The size of the yard required a minimum of two drip valves, and I was even contemplating three, but one, no way! So does the home owner know his system is stretched, and if he wants to add more plants later, to fill in the gaps, that he can’t? He thought initially he was getting a great deal, the landscaper was a referral from a friend, who probably doesn’t know any more about landscaping than he does. So referrals, though good, must also be “weighed.”(Read my March article, I gave pointers on selecting a landscaper.) The truth is, the only way to be the low bidder is to short change the customer in quality, variety and infrastructure; which will be seen over time in a land scape that struggles, as well as lacking the beauty, variety and solitude that you wanted to begin with. Lastly, yet as an important reminder, remember to ask for proof of insurance; liability, vehicle and workers comp. Without these three coverages you will be out of pocket, and/or your homeowners insurance will be affected. I close now, and I thank you for hearing me out. Good gardening!

As a personal favor to me, if these articles have been helpful please send me a quick note to and let me know. Please use my website for all other communications. I enjoy writing, and love helping, but it is not easy for me. If you are a doityourselfer please use this article as a guide, and if you need help please do not hesitate to call Executive Care Landscape Management, Inc. at (916) 7659040 or visit our website Executive Care Landscape Management, Inc. is a local full service landscape design/install and maintenance company.

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Executive Care Inc.

Executive Care Inc.