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50% Water Use Reduction by Saying Goodbye Lawn

What’s the water savings of a low water California English (Calish?) Cottage Garden? 50%.

50 Percent Water Reduction

Yep, I’d say the landscape rebate program works. More about that in a minute. First, here are the stats:

May 2013 Water Usage: 7 CCF — 180 Gallons/Day

May 2015 Water Usage: 4 CCF — 98 Gallons/Day

That’s a 50% overall reduction in water usage, even after adding another adult to the household (Welcome home, Fabulous Son!). During May 2014, the lawn was being sheet mulched, we weren’t watering, and Fabulous Son was still at college and not using water at home, so that data is excluded.

Pardon this moment of pride, but not only are we doing our bit to save water, we’ve added to the beauty of the neighborhood. I see signs popping up that proclaim “Brown is the new Green.” I say Brown is the new Lazy. Apply for the Santa Clara Valley Water District Landscape Rebate Program BEFORE you let your lawn die (afterwards is too late). Then, If you want to zeroscape, awesome. There are very lovely zeroscape yards. If you want a flower filled English cottage garden, you can do that too by planting wisely. Can’t afford to pull out the lawn? Sheet mulch. It’s free and leaves you with a nice clean, weedless yard that will be ready to plant when the rains return.

Sorry about the rant. Back to water savings and useful information–

Rainwater on Verbascum
The last time it rained, I photographed the rainwater puddle on this verbascum leaf.

In early 2014 we discussed lawn conversion because of the drought. Then Amazing Husband found out about the Santa Clara Valley Water District Landscape Rebate Program. The program provided not only the motivation, but the planning tools to ensure the lawn conversion was a success. Be forewarned, the program has a lot of rules you must follow. The first being, your lawn must be green and irrigated when water district personnel make their assessment. Only after the assessment may you stop watering.

One of the best requirements of the program is that you must install a rain sensor. We paid extra for a top of the line full weather sensor and couldn’t be more pleased with its performance.

Water use in the garden is controlled by an Irritrol CL-100-Wireless Climate Logic Weather Sensor and an Irritrol Rain Dial Controller. I installed both units after the drip system was in place. The installation was easy after watching the YouTube how-to videos, programming even easier because you can sit at the table and program the controller before mounting it in a dark corner of the garage. The most complex, and I must say cool, part is the Climate Logic Weather Sensor calculations. 

Climate Logic Controller

The weather sensor mounts on your house and uses a wireless rf connection to the mini-computer that you mount next to the controller. This little bugger contains local weather conditions from the past 10 years and combines that with the current weather. It then tells your controller how much water to use each cycle. If it has rained, it goes on rain delay. If it’s cold and overcast, it waters less. Thanks to technology, we aim to maintain that 50% reduction in water use even when the weather turns hot.

I can’t end this post without a shout-out to Lane Irrigation in Campbell. I might have saved a few dollars by using Amazon, but then I wouldn’t have met the very knowledgeable staff at Lane Irrigation. They saved this irrigation newb a lot of grief by reviewing my plans and helping solve some tricky problems. Plus they carry all the parts and pieces you need to renovate your irrigation system, including some you won’t find elsewhere. Make sure to stock up on teflon tape. Lane carries the high quality tape, not the cheap Lowes/Home Depot stuff. Thanks Lane!

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