Sorcerer’s Apprentice

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The music has been going through my head all day. This morning I decided the irrigation system was due for a tune-up. Starting early, I worked and worked, moving, lifting and adjusting sprinkler heads. And then after hours of work, I got to conduct the irrigation system, using my iphone, no less. It was so much fun!

Let me backtrack a bit. In preparing for our rapidly approaching trip to India, I changed out my old irrigation controller for one that can be set online. The old system worked fine except that I could not program it to run any less frequently than weekly. During the summer, unless it is extremely hot, I water the trees and lawn in the front yard about once every 10-12 days. To do this I program the controller to go off early in the morning, and after it has run through its zones, I must remember to turn it off. Several days later I have to remember to reset it so that it runs again in about a week and a half. This is a drag now, but it will be impossible when we are gone. True, we will be away in winter, but if it does not rain the front yard needs irrigation, even in winter, albeit only twice a month or so. 
And did I mention that my kids, who will be living in our house while we are away, are a bit green-challenged? No way they would notice even if everything were totally dead. Now that they have a baby it is unthinkable to put them in charge of irrigation. So IrrigationCaddy (IC) to the rescue. 
Setting up IrrigationCaddy in the basement where the old
Rain Bird controller was. The irrigation wires are
ready to be attached to the IC.
IC is a reasonably priced, programmable controller that can be set off from any online computer or smartphone. Setting it up was not as effortless as the website suggested but with a bit of work and some assistance from their tech support, it is operational. I still have one small issue that I have not been able to resolve. I do not understand how to set the start date when I program it to go off once every 12 days. It seems to pick it randomly. I sent an email and got an answer but I still don’t get it. In my next post I will go into more detail on the IC and what it was like setting it up.
With the program pretty much all set, I decided it was time to make some corrections to the front yard irrigation. I designed the system while taking a course on landscape irrigation offered by the Horticulture Department at Mt. San Antonio College. At that time, lawn pretty much filled the front yard. Since then I have shrunk the lawn by carving out garden beds along the edges, and as a result two of the sprinkler heads were hitting shrubs and not actually reaching the grass. One of these is along the sidewalk. Lifting it on a riser so that it would water over the shrubs would not look good and would be too easily damaged. This one needed to be moved toward the lawn area.

Rain bird 3500 rotary sprinkler head along sidewalk is blocked by monkey flowers and other small plants. This is not good for the perennials or the lawn. 
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There was a big root, about one inch diameter, growing along the walk, right up against the sprinkler. 
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Milo is working hard, as usual.
Pipe extended and routed to lawn’s edge.

The second sprinkler head was put on a riser, with a shrub head substituted for a pop-up.

I am sure this will not meet the standards of my husband. Wonder when he will notice and gently suggest
a way to make it look better.

It was all straight forward enough, though it took hours to complete. For one thing, I learned that my husband long ago disposed of the remnants  of 3/4 inch PVC, and of course, blue glue does not last long. Once at the hardware store, I met an old friend and had the pleasure of exchanging info on how our daughters are doing since high school, and now college, graduation.

Once the sprinkler heads were properly placed, I got to conduct the irrigation system – just like Mickey. With my iphone in hand I pushed the “run now” button and like magic, the zone I was testing started working. No running to the basement where the controller is located to push start, no turning flimsy knobs on the valves wondering how many turns they would take. It was awesome, and I am sure that my neighbors loved watching me getting soaked while I adjusted the throw (I do not like those little blue nozzles in the Rain Bird 3500 rotary sprinklers). On and off the sprinklers went on command, but unlike Mickey, I did not flood the place (at least not yet). The system is working likely a finely tuned orchestra that I can conduct from nearly 9,000 miles away in Mumbai, India. Check another thing off the “preparing-for-India” list.

Irrigation program on Iphone playing Irrigation Symphony Opus 201.

2 thoughts on “Sorcerer’s Apprentice

  1. Anonymous

    Amazing post. I'm impressed! Pamela

  2. @Pamela, thanks!

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