How to tackle brown spots

Do you find yourself battling brown spots in your yard all summer long? If so, you’re not alone. Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado says brown spots and weeds are the two most common lawn problems. And more often than not, the underlying cause of both is a faulty sprinkler system.

So, what can you do? ALCC offers the following advice:

Brown spots are really the lawn’s call for help. The grass is stressed and you think it needs more water.

While you may be tempted to turn up the sprinkler system so it waters longer, that won’t solve the problem if the water isn’t getting to that brown spot to begin with.

Many brown spots stem from issues with the sprinkler heads. Here are three common problems with quick fixes to get your system back in order:

Irrigation audit, September 2013

Denver Water conservation technicians Jenelle Rhodes and Rick Alvarado demonstrate how to properly align a rotor head.

#1 – Clogged nozzle. Dirt and debris often get into the nozzle (the part in the sprinkler head where the water comes out) and once it is cleaned out, the head will spray water where it’s intended.

#2 – Misaligned rotor heads. If the rotor heads (the part that oscillates back and forth), are pointed in the wrong direction or stuck, you lawn isn’t getting the water it needs. A head that’s aimed at the street rather than your lawn is the culprit for the brown spot and is wasting water. Getting the head back into position will put the water where it needs to go.

#3 – Sprinkler heads aren’t popping up high enough. Equipment damage or soil build-up over the years may mean the sprinklers are no longer popping up high enough to clear the top of the grass blades. When that happens, water will hit the grass closest the head and be deflected. Raising the heads — or replacing them with sprinklers that pop up higher — will solve the problem.

More advice for brown spots  

If temps remain high for a few days, hand-water those brown spots to give them extra TLC. Avoid running the entire sprinkler system longer just to deal with problem areas because that wastes water and adds to your water bill.

 

 

Beyond brown spots — how to check your sprinkler system for problems

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When checking your sprinkler system for problems, look for mushy areas in the lawn. A very soggy area may be due to a break in the sprinkler pipe.

Because most of us run our sprinkler system overnight (which is a good thing!), we never really see whether the system is operating properly or not. With temps in the 90s, you may want to turn on your sprinklers for a quick run-through to look for problems.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Mushy areas in the lawn. A very soggy area may be due to a break in the sprinkler pipe. Go to the timer and stop watering that section of the sprinkler system until you can rule out a break or repair the broken pipe.
  • Very dry grass and/or part of the sprinkler system won’t run. This can indicate an underground electrical problem. Some diagnostic work will be required and you probably will need to call a pro.
  • Check your timer:

o    Make sure the timer is plugged in, and replace the battery so you don’t lose your schedule from a power outage.

o    Set the timer to run based on the kinds of sprinkler heads in each area of your yard. Rotor heads that shoot water back and forth across the lawn should run no more than about 20 minutes per cycle. Pop-up heads that spray continually over one area should never run more than 8-10 minutes per cycle. Longer run times will cause water to run off the lawn and that’s literally money down the drain.

o    Watering in smaller increments (cycle and soak) gives soil adequate time to soak up water. Once the water from the first round of watering is absorbed, water again about an hour or more later. The moist soil will allow additional water to travel even deeper to the roots and, in turn, create a healthier lawn.

Use Denver Water’s run-time scheduler to create a zone-by-zone schedule, and learn more about how to cycle and soak your lawn and suggested minutes to water per zone based on the month and your sprinkler system.

Other tips to help your lawn survive a heat wave:

  • Wait to fertilize the lawn until temps cool down.
  • Cut the lawn to a height of about 3 inches. Cutting too short adds to heat stress, while longer blades provide shade over the soil to help it retain moisture. Mulching grass clippings and leaving them on top of the lawn will also help keep the grass cool.

Congratulations, you’ve won the battle against brown spots, but there is more work to do. From properly installing and upgrading your irrigation system to keeping up with the routine maintenance, having a lawn is a responsibility that requires constant attention and adjustments. Have no fear! There are tools in place to help you maintain a healthy landscape, while being water-efficient. Visit denverwater.org/conservation for more tips, including rebate information.

Pop quiz — perceptions of water use

By Lindsay Weber, Denver Water demand planner

promolabel_blue_lookPop quiz: Why is it important to know how much water different activities use — like flushing a toilet or taking a shower?

Answer: Because knowledge is power, and if you know how much water you are using, you can also figure out how much water you can save.

So, are you up for the challenge? Below are questions about common household indoor uses of water. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, or if you don’t think that they have a major impact on your daily water use, you’re not alone. A recent national study shows that Americans are likely to underestimate the amount of water used by various activities by a factor of two, and are likely to greatly underestimate activities that use a lot of water — such as filling a swimming pool.

Take the challenge:

 Answers:

1) B

In 2011, Denver Water conducted a residential water use study and found that the toilets in our service area have a median volume of 2.4 gallons of water per flush. To save water, you can flush less, but you can also use Denver Water’s rebate program to offset the purchase of a WaterSense-labeled toilet that uses as little as 1.28 or even 1.0 gallons per flush. This is especially important if you have an old, water-guzzling toilet from before 1996 that can use three or more gallons per flush.

In 2012, Denver Water conducted a residential end use study and found that the toilets in our service area have a median volume of 2.4 gallons of water per flush. To save water, you can flush less, but you also can use Denver Water’s rebate program to offset the purchase of a WaterSense-labeled toilet that uses as little as 1.28 or even 1.0 gallons per flush. This is especially important if you have an old, water-guzzling toilet from before 1996 that uses three or more gallons per flush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) B

Denver Water customers use about 16 gallons of water to take a shower. Obviously, shortening the time spent in the shower will save water, but efficient showerheads will also help. A WaterSense-labeled showerhead saves 20 percent more water than a conventional showerhead, and it will save energy too.

Denver Water customers use about 16 gallons of water to take a shower. Obviously, shortening the time spent in the shower will save water, but efficient showerheads also will help. A WaterSense-labeled showerhead saves 20 percent more water than a conventional showerhead, and it will save energy too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) B

Clothes washers in the Denver Water service area use an average of 30 gallons per load. Considering Denver Water households do about a load of laundry each day, that can add up over a year. To save water, you can reduce the number of loads you do, but you also can look into getting a more efficient clothes washer. An ENERGY STAR clothes washer uses only 15 gallons of water per load — and will save you money on your energy bill too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations, you’ve completed the first step of figuring out how much water you are using. Now that you have the power, it’s time to figure out how much water you can save.

Further info:

Water wisely during Smart Irrigation Month

Smart_Irrigation_Month_logoThe hot month of July typically is when people use the most water. In honor of this busy lawn-watering month, the Irrigation Association created Smart Irrigation Month to remind people about the importance of appropriate irrigation technology and wise watering habits to reduce water use, create healthy lawns and achieve greater agricultural yields.

You can take part in Smart Irrigation Month with these simple tips:

Abide by the watering rules

To help eliminate outdoor water waste, Denver Water implements annual summer water use rules, which help facilitate smart irrigation. The rules include:

  • Water during cooler times of the day — lawn watering is NOT allowed between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Water no more than three days per week.
  • Do not allow water to pool in gutters, streets and alleys.
  • Do not waste water by letting it spray on concrete or asphalt.
  • Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days.
  • Do not irrigate while it is raining or during high winds.
  • Use a hose nozzle with a shut-off valve when washing your car.

Chart your water consumption and get conservation tips — all online

Everything you need to save water, pay your bill and learn about Denver Water is at your fingertips. Denver Water has several ways for customers to stay connected online:

  • Chart your monthly water consumption.
  • Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for instant updates and conservation tips.
  • Subscribe to this blog for regular tips, updates and guest posts about conservation (on the right-hand side of this page).
  • Sign up to receive E-Tap or CNSRV, e-newsletters with news related to Denver Water and monthly conservation tips.
Alicia Geary, Water Saver, helps a customer program their smart controller. Denver Water has a team of nine Water Savers out in the community to provide customers with tips and tools for water-saving practices this summer.

Valerie Beyer, Water Saver, helps a customer program their smart controller. Denver Water has a team of nine Water Savers out in the community this summer.

Don’t lose water — and money — while on vacation

Going out of town for vacation? Make sure someone is keeping an eye on your irrigation system. Summer power failures can reset your sprinklers and cost you money!

It’s also important to replace your irrigation system’s backup battery each year so your sprinklers won’t go haywire in a power failure.

And install a smart irrigation controller with a rain sensor to prevent your system from running in the rain. Earn a rebate for WaterSense certified controllers.

Maintain a green lawn with less water 

A simple way to use less water while maintaining a green lawn is to use the cycle-and-soak method. Instead of setting your sprinklers for one 14-minute period, for example, set your irrigation system to run for seven minutes, rest for several minutes, then run for the remaining seven minutes to achieve the total 14-minute run-time. Doing so will reduce wasteful runoff.

Peruse through past blog posts

Explore Denver Water’s 2014 Water Quality Report

We live in one of the healthiest states in the U.S. Last year, in fact, Colorado was ranked the eighth healthiest state in the nation by United Health Foundation.

While being healthy means different things for different people, most would agree that knowing what you put into your body is a place to start. If you have the time, you can read food labels to see what’s in your food, but what about when you turn on the tap? Ever wonder what’s in your water?

For Denver Water employees, our mission is to make sure customers receive clean, safe, great-tasting water every day. Last year we collected more than 16,000 samples and conducted more than 60,000 tests to ensure just that.

We’re lucky here in the Mile High City — Denver’s drinking water is 100 percent surface water that comes from rivers, lakes, streams, reservoirs and springs fed by high-quality mountain snow runoff. We vigilantly safeguard our mountain water supplies, and we carefully treat the water before it reaches your tap.

Part of our mission is letting you know where your water comes from and what’s in it by releasing our annual Water Quality Report. We are pleased to report exhaustive testing in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines has shown that our drinking water is safe and meets and exceeds all federal and state requirements.

Denver Water’s 2014 Water Quality Report talks about the water system, the treatment process, and what is and is not in your water. Above, the table “Regulated Water Contaminants: What is in the water?” (from page 7 of the report) shows the results of water quality tests over the last year. See page 4 for a glossary of terms.

Denver Water’s 2014 Water Quality Report talks about the water system, the treatment process, and what is and is not in your water. Above, the table “Regulated Water Contaminants: What is in the water?” (from page 7 of the report) shows the results of water quality tests over the last year. See page 4 for a glossary of terms.

Video collage — Beautiful, water-efficient landscapes of our customers

Because July is Smart Irrigation Month, we thought it would be fun to highlight some of our customers who have transformed their yards into a more water-efficient landscape.

We sent out Denver Water’s team of nine Water Savers, who spend their day with customers providing water-saving tips and tools, to capture some of the beautiful landscapes throughout Denver Water’s service area. In just one day, our Water Savers captured more than 100 photos highlighting a variety of efficient landscapes.

This video highlights a portion of what the Water Savers discovered.

 

Transforming your landscape doesn’t have to be extreme or even happen all at once. It can be as simple as identifying an area of your grass that is difficult to maintain because it is on a slope or receives too much sun exposure, or by locating areas of turf that aren’t necessary or beneficial, like on the side of your house or the sidewalk strip. By upgrading these unused or difficult-to-maintain areas, you’ll create a more efficient landscape — without sacrificing beneficial areas of your grass for kids and pets to play.

For landscape improvement ideas, check out our Transforming Landscape series:

 

Strontia Springs Dam — under the spillway

Last week we explored the history of the High Line Canal, which begins at a diversion dam on the South Platte River 1.8 miles upstream from the mouth of Waterton Canyon. Roughly five more miles up the canyon is Strontia Springs Dam.

And, as we learned in our trip to Cheesman Reservoir two weeks ago, several Denver Water reservoirs filled this spring during the runoff, including Strontia Springs Reservoir.

Lance Cloyd, Denver Water’s Strontia Springs caretaker, provides an all-access tour of the area with behind-the-scenes vantage points capturing the beauty behind 800 cubic feet per second flowing out of the spillway.

 

Take a trip down the High Line Canal

The trail along the High Line Canal is a favorite urban getaway that meanders 66 miles across the Denver metro area. While the waterway (71-miles long) is owned and operated by Denver Water, this National Landmark Trail is maintained by municipal recreation agencies.

The workers who built the High Line Canal more than a century ago didn’t envision that people would be using their ambitious irrigation project as a recreational outlet in the midst of a busy urban area. Take a trip back in time with Greenwood Village to learn how the canal transformed into the recreational amenity it is today.

Beyond The Green – The High Line Canal Trail


The Guide to the High Line Canal Trail, a full-color guide with mile-by-mile descriptions and a pull-out trail map, is a perfect companion for anyone looking to enjoy a slice of the outdoors in the middle of a city.

The Guide is only available at local bookstores or their online sites, and select retail outlets (listed here). Prices vary by store ($10.95 – $11.99).

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