Self-Guided Landscapes Tour
Welcome to SCV Water’s Self-Guided Landscapes Tour!
The purpose of this tour is to educate and inspire you to change your landscape and improve your irrigation practices by installing beautiful drought-tolerant and low-maintenance alternatives.
By showcasing different landscape designs and plant options, you’ll learn there are numerous ways to save water and make your landscape drought-tolerant.
Our Thrifty 30 plants (perennials, trees, shrubs and groundcover) have been chosen for their attractiveness, availability, drought-tolerance once established, ease of maintenance and long-term viability in the Santa Clarita Valley. The Thrifty 30 will live and thrive through our hottest summers and coldest winter nights. They also do not mind clay soil.
What Time of Day Should I Water?
In the Santa Clarita Valley, we recommend watering between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Watering within this window of time takes advantage of relatively low winds and less loss of water to evaporation. Check with your water retailer for the appropriate watering day schedule.
How Long Should I Water?
Generally, in the Santa Clarita Valley, because of our clay soils, running an irrigation system on a lawn for more than five minutes will result in runoff. Precise watering times vary depending on the type of watering device, soil, slope and plants.
How Often Should I Water?
In the Santa Clarita Valley, water in the early morning hours between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. as follows:
|Summer: No more than every other day||Fall: No more than 3 times per week|
|Spring: No more than 3 times per week||Winter: No more than 1 time per week|
Less is More – More damage is caused to our plants and grass from over-watering than from under-watering. When setting up your schedules be conservative to start and add more time when plants begin to look stressed.
Losing its Spring – Grass signals that it needs water by losing its spring: When you walk across the lawn and see your footprints, your lawn probably needs to be watered.
Grass Height – Set your mower to one of the highest settings. There are several reasons not to cut your grass too short:
- Keeping grass longer allows it greater surface area to carry out photosynthesis, which in turn results in healthier plants. In addition, taller grass grows slower than shorter grass. You can use this fact to eliminate up to 20 percent of the mowing you do annually—an average savings of about eight hours a year, not to mention the savings of gasoline and wear on equipment.
- By keeping your grass at the upper end of its recommended mowing height, you can prevent most weeds from germinating—and thereby eliminate the need for herbicides.
Take Control – Weather-based irrigation controllers (wbic) are a great way to automate seasonal irrigation adjustments. Rebates for these devices may be available through your water retailer.
Fall Irrigation – In the Santa Clarita Valley, in September through November, temperatures may still be relatively hot and your plants may seem to require similar watering patterns to the summer. However, keep in mind that as the days become shorter, evaporation decreases and plants’ water needs drop by approximately 30%.
Samples of Irrigation Schedules
Many homeowners request irrigation schedules to help them program their traditional controllers. Any schedule provided needs to be adjusted based on the type of watering device, soil, slope and plants.
The tables below are samples of controller settings that may be successful in the Santa Clarita Valley. These tables assume that your irrigation system works efficiently, and that you have resolved any common irrigation issues.
Keep in mind that with the clay soil that is prevalent in the Santa Clarita Valley, “cycling and soaking,” turning the controller on for a recommended number of minutes several times an hour apart, results in deeper watering and a healthier root system.
Sample Controller Settings – Santa Clarita
Turf Grass (Pop-up Spray)
|Days Per Week||3||4||2||Off|
|Start Times Per Day||3||3||3||Off|
|Minutes Per Station||5||5||5||Off|
|Total Minutes Per Day||15||15||15||Off|
|Total Minutes Per Week||45||60||30||Off|
Shrubs (Pop-up Spray)
|Days per Week||2||3||1||Off|
|Start Times per Day||2||2||2||Off|
|Minutes per Station||3||3||3||Off|
|Total Minutes per Day||6||6||6||Off|
|Total Minutes per Week||12||18||6||Off|
Drip (Moderate Water Use Plants)
|Days per Week||2||3||2||Off|
|Start Times per Day||1||1||1||Off|
|Minutes per Station||20||20||20||Off|
|Total Minutes per Day||20||20||20||Off|
|Total Minutes per Week||40||60||40||Off|
A drip system can run during the middle of the day so you can check that emitters are working and see that the ground is wet. However, 6 a.m. is an ideal time for a drip system to turn on so you can perform an early morning check-up on its functionality.
Watering Device Types
Spray heads are the most commonly used sprinkler in the Santa Clarita Valley for residential turf and shrubs. Heads are spaced according to the specific nozzle (which screws into the top of the head), but they are usually not more than 15 feet from one another. Most frequently, spray heads in the Santa Clarita Valley are pop-ups, which literally means they pop-up during irrigation and then retract afterwards. This is most likely what you have in your yard.
Spray heads apply water much faster than the clay soils in the Santa Clarita Valley can absorb it. For this reason, “Cycle and Soak” is most frequently used as a setting. (Your Weathermatic SmartLine controller will do “Cycle and Soak” automatically based on what soil type you choose). “Cycle and Soak” means the spray heads apply water in a very short cycle (even one minute or less) in a burst and then wait for the water to soak in before irrigating again. This reduces run-off and encourages deep, healthy roots in turf.
Rotary heads (rotors) can also be used for residences, but are best for large turf areas such as parks and community-owned landscaping. Rotary heads can shoot water 25-40 feet, which is too far for most yards in the Santa Clarita Valley. Rotary heads are also typically pop-up heads that you only see while the irrigation system is watering.
Like spray heads, rotary heads apply water much faster than the clay soils in the Santa Clarita Valley can absorb it. “Cycle and Soak” should be used in the Santa Clarita Valley in order to allow water to fully absorb.
Drip systems are increasing in prominence in the Santa Clarita Valley for shrubs and trees. These systems generally apply water at the same rate as the soil can accept it. Drip may require a pressure regulator for your irrigation system (separate from a pressure regulator for your house) to keep the pressure low. Drip is considered the ultimate in water use efficiency — you are applying water only at the rate the soil can accept the water, so you won’t have run-off.
Bubblers work best for trees with basins around them. Water is released from the bubbler at a faster rate than the soil can generally accept. But if there is a basin to contain the water, it will absorb over time.
Common Irrigation Challenges
Many homeowners have challenges with their irrigation systems. Use the table below to identify more common irrigation issues along with suggested solutions.