Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

JUL 2018

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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Page 16 of 55

Above After the upgrade to the weather-based smart system, the landscape at Crystal Cove has been irrigat- ed more appropriately and more efficiently. As a result, the community received approximately $350,000 in rebates through SoCal Water$mart, a program oper- ated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to encourage residents to save water. Right The system pulls weather data from an area of one kilometer and programs the irrigation schedule appropriately. Each controller has its own cellular modem, so if one is taken offline, the others are not af- fected. And each controller can be programmed on its own, but there are also three different groups that can be controlled as one unit. By classifying the controllers into groups, they can be shut off in a specified area to be more water efficient. A Right Resolution Besides turf, the common landscaped areas in Crystal Cove include birds of paradise, star jasmine, agave and oth - ers. With different water requirements, managing the irrigation system to meet all needs is paramount to the health of the landscape. They found the best way to obtain that was through smart irrigation with con - trollers that monitor weather and soil conditions to automatically adjust land - scape watering needs. Park West chose WeatherTRAK larger capacity controllers, supporting 72 and 96 stations, and reduced the number of them from 267 to 167. Each individual controller has a cellu - lar modem, allowing them to work inde- pendently. If one is taken off the grid, the others continue to irrigate appropriately. "They all receive specific weather data within one square kilometer of an area," explained Smith. "We can have our con - trollers receive different ET values just by being far enough away from each other." The controllers receive evapotranspira - tion (ET) data on a daily basis and adjust programming based on that information as well as manually entered user data. For areas of the property that were being under-watered, Park West put to - gether an initial program that watered based on the original design. "Then every few months, we reduced the irrigation frequency while maintaining proper soil moisture to train the plants to develop a longer root system," said Smith. Each different area of landscape was programmed based on the irrigation method, the precipitation rate of that method, and runoff. The new irrigation system can be con - trolled either from an app or from the manufacturer's website. "The webpage allows us to have all functionality," said Smith. "The app allows us to review alerts, manually irrigate, turn controllers on and off, and pause for rain." The controllers were divided into three groups. By grouping them, they can be managed more efficiently. "For example, in less than 30 seconds we can turn off 75 controllers in a certain area without turning off any other controllers through - out the property," explained Smith. "From an environmental standpoint, with Crystal Cove so close to the coast - line, the project's design allows us to bet- ter manage potential large-equipment is- sues like mainline breaks or stuck valves and thereby mitigate the amount of waste water that would otherwise end up in our ocean," he noted. The Outcome "We have been able to irrigate more effectively," said Smith of the results of the installation, which was completed in August 2017. And the controllers have built-in volt meters that continually check the irrigation circuits to make sure they are operational. As ground squir - rels and gophers have a tendency to shut down circuits, the system will alert the irrigators if this happens. "Our two-year analysis found that the property was being under-irrigated with regard to what is horticulturally correct," he said. "With this information and past water bills, we put together a program to irrigate to the needs of the plant material. It has all made the overall irrigation op - erations much more efficient." LC DBM July 2018 17

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