Truckee River Flows at Risk for Summer

There are growing concerns we’re heading toward a major water shortage. We’re halfway through the month of January and parts of our region have only received 5% of the precipitation that usually falls in this month. December was also dry with a little over 20% of average rainfall.

Water experts say the Truckee is already at a reduced flow and it will get worse as our reservoirs dry up.

Truckee River Flows at Risk for Summer.

Get to the root of it – watering trees in winter

Watering your tree within entire root area

Watering your tree within entire root area. Click for larger image

These ecologists describe root activity as periodic, with maximum growth in early summer – especially in deciduous species – and pulses of additional growth occurring occasionally in early fall. And complicating things further, they indicate that not all roots grow at the same time. Even within a single tree, some roots may be active while others are not. However, by all accounts, tree roots in our region are thought to spend the winter in a condition of dormancy. This means they are not dead but rather they overwinter in a resting phase with essential life processes continuing at a minimal rate. Full-on root growth resumes in spring, shortly after soils become free of frost, usually sometime before bud break.

But unlike the aboveground parts of most trees that pass the winter in a prolonged dormancy – marked by unbroken inactivity until spring – tree roots seem to maintain a readiness to grow independent of the aboveground parts of the tree. That is, roots remain mostly inactive but can and do function and grow during winter months whenever soil temperatures are favorable, even if the air aboveground is brutally cold. While roots tend to freeze and die at soil temperatures below 20°F, minimum temperatures for root growth are thought to be between 32 and 41°F. So, if soil temperatures warm to or stay above this minimum, winter roots can break dormancy and become active.

Control and Prevention

The most effective way to reduce the possibility of root injury and disease is to keep the tree healthy and vigorous. A healthy root environment consists of adequate growing space for the root system, well-conditioned soil 16 inches to 24 inches deep, and sufficient water and oxygen. To check the water and soil condition of the root environment, dig a hole outside the dripline of the tree and determine if the soil is dry, wet or compacted. If you can’t get the shovel in the ground, the soil is dry. Soil moisture is adequate if the soil can be madeinto a ball with little pressure. Long, deep watering over the entire root system with time for the soil to dry between watering is better for trees than frequent light watering. Watering once a month during a long, dry winter also is helpful.

Avoid any practice that injures the roots. This includes: soil compaction, soil depth changes, mechanical injury, and improper watering and fertilization techniques. However, if these practices cannot be avoided, try to minimize damage.

Learn more about the health of your trees by calling a Signature ISA Arborist - (775) 857-4333 

To minimize soil compaction, remove compacted soil and replace it with noncompacted soil. Provide adequate drainage before planting. Use 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch (peat moss, wood chips, tree bark) around the base of a tree to improve soil aeration and water availability. Adding new mulch every three years or so will be needed as the mulch decays and improves the soil structure.

Avoid fertilization damage by applying nitrogen fertilizer to established trees immediately after spring leaf expansion, not in the late summer and fall.

 

 

It’s A Water-Saver Coloring Book

Even young children understand the importance of protecting the environment for the future. Download this free coloring book so your kids can learn how to make a difference courtesy of Signature Landscapes and the Irrigation Association.

Signature’s Take on the book: The simple info covered in this little book are worded perfectly for the busy parent too. Download and see for yourself! 


The 8-page book includes coloring pages, puzzles and jokes, along with easy tips to save water outdoors. Promote smart irrigation to kids in your community.

Download Coloring Book

Common Landscape Irrigation Problems

No two landscapes are alike

That’s why Signature Landscapes  installs some of the most diverse, durable and precise irrigation components in the industry. Whatever landscape problems you might have, be worry-free knowing Signature Landscapes has an efficient, hassle-free solution.

PROBLEM: Watering Slopes or Hills
Water can puddle or pool around sprinklers installed at the bottom of slopes or hills, causing soggy areas, which can kill grass or encourage fungus to grow.

SIGNATURE LANDSCAPES SOLUTION
3500 Rotors and 5000 Rotors with a Seal-A-Matic™ (SAM) Check Valve stop the problem of low head drainage and eliminate puddling. Or use Rain Bird Rotary Nozzles which deliver water at a lower rate, allowing sufficient soak-in time to prevent run-off.

Watering Variations & Sun Exposure

Over- or under-watering often results because not every part of your yard and garden requires the same amount of moisture due to exposure to the sun.
SIGNATURE LANDSCAPES SOLUTIONS
Easy-to-set controllers with multiple, independent programs, like the ESP-Modular, allow additional watering times to be programmed for areas with more sun exposure. Low-volume drip allows the customization of precise water delivery to individual plants or groups of plants, based on specific watering needs and exposure to the sun.

Call (775) 827-LAWN (5296) for a quick and helpful phone quote. Or visit SigLands.com and schedule a free consultation. Our team will help you get the most out of your current irrigation system today. We’re proud to use Rain Bird products for a green, healthy lawn!

Heat stress on your lawn

Just like any other living creature in Northern Nevada, your lawn can suffer serious heat stress symptoms. Caused by high heat and lack of rainfall, dry summers and lack of humidity, we’re seeing heat stress is really take a toll on our local lawns.

Consistent watering is one of the most important practices in taking care of your lawn right now. 

 But be alert – temperatures over ninety degrees day after day can cause a slowdown in grass growth. With our low humidity, the blades of grass can experience a daytime wilt which can cause a loss of color normally associated with a healthy lawn. But don’t stress yourself…this does not necessarily mean the lawn is dying or in serious trouble.

Your grass is comprised of 80% water. High heat and low humidity takes some of this away, even with good watering practices – hence the wilting. But properly watered lawns will recover much more quickly than a drought stressed yard when the longer nights and cooler days return.

Water at least 2 to 2 1/2 inches per week. One inch of water should re-wet the soil about 6 inches deep. To determine how much water has been applied, set a straight-sided can under the sprinkler.

And remember, without adequate water, your heat stressed lawn will quickly turn into drought stressed lawn.

In a drought stressed lawn, grass soon turns brown and becomes dormant. An early clue to drought stress is when grassy areas show a dark bluish-green cast. Begin applying water when the soil starts to dry out and before the grass wilts and has a chance to become brown.

A word of caution about limited watering: A single watering during a high heat and/or drought period is likely to do more harm than good. If the grass cannot be kept actively growing with sufficient water, it is best to let the grass go dormant. Inconsistent or “light” watering during extended dry periods will slow the rate of recovery when adequate rainfall does occur. Bluegrass is very resilient and will come out of the heat and drought quickly as long as it is properly cared for and steps are taken to keep insects and weeds out of the stressed or dormant areas of the lawn.

Some things you can do when water restrictions prevent you from watering as much as the lawn really needs:

  1. Make sure your irrigation timer/clock is set to provide all the water your grass needs this month.
  2. Water only that part of the lawn where improvement is most important.
  3. Use a sharp mower blade; the cleaner the cut the less water the grass blades will lose out of the injury done by the cutting.
  4. Mow regularly until growth slows, but at a higher (rather than lower) cutting height.
  5. Make each watering consistent and make sure enough water is being applied to moisten soil to a good depth.
  6. Remember, with our losw humidity, a ten minute watering of most sprinkler systems will not likely get enough water into the soil. This will force the roots to go shallow and weaken the lawn’s resistance to heat stress and drought stress/damage.

If you have questions about your irrigation timer, how to propertly adjust for this high heat, don’t hesitate to call us. Our PLANET Certified Irrigation Technicians can quickly help get your lawn’s watering needs on track.

Call Signature Landscapes at 827-5296 and we’ll come out immediately!

Northern Nevada Drought – Things you should know as you program your irrigation clocks

It’s a warm, dry spring and we’ve known for months the Truckee Meadows is in for a very dry summer.

So…other than an extremely elevated FIRE season, what does this mean for all of us who have a front lawn to mow, veggie seeds in the ground and a some trees to offer cools shade on the hot side of the house?  Can we tend to our plants and still save water?

Lawn watering tip for now through mid-June:  After watering the grass, let the top 1/2″ of the soil dry out before watering again.  This is when the roots are growing deep to seek water in the soil.  By letting that top 1/2″ dry out, you’re building a more healthy, drought tolerant lawn.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. While landscapes do take water, they also give back. Landscaping is part of our eco-system that cleans the air, shades buildings, mitigates pollution in both the air and storm water, produces food and cools the urban environment. Landscapes give back to us much more than they take.
  2. Water-deprived landscapes become unhealthy ones that are susceptible to weeds and disease. Even in dry times, we need to protect the long-term value of our landscapes while conserving water. LOW water does not mean NO water. We simply need to water responsibly.
  3. Now is the time to get busy and do the things that save water–like simple, budget-friendly upgrades to the sprinkler system.  Irrigation clocks/timers/controllers are terribly sophisticated these days – and the price on the good ones are surprisingly affordable. Plus they’re very user friendly!

Remember Xeriscapes from years gone by?  Now a globally-known concept, it was invented in Colorado about 30 years ago and its principles apply today.  Xeriscape isn’t a “look” or a specific kind of landscape, rather, it’s a whole system that starts in the soil and ends with a rich plant palette and vibrant healthy landscape.

What it looks like in your yard is up to personal preference and individual interpretation that comes about with a good design.  If you’re planning to renovate or installing a new landscape this year, check out what Xeriscape really means, because that vision of rocks and yucca plants is nothing more than pure urban legend!

Call our Landscape Design Center at (775) 857-4333 and schedule a free consultation to help visualize how a water-smart landscape could actually save you money while looking the best on the block.

Plus, all new landscapes qualify for our 180-Days Same-As-Cash landscape and paver program. So you can take your own sweet time to pay a landscape to last you and your family a lifetime.

REDUCE AND DIVERSIFY WITH X-E-R-I-S-C-A-P-E!

Reducing turf areas, lowering water costs and bringing a more organic look to the landscape was the big ‘to do’ for us in 2009. In other words, Xeriscaping was back into favor with homeowners, designers and contractors. I have a good feeling it’s going to top 2010 project list again.

Now, before you get the idea this translates to a few cacti, scotch broom and a cover of river-rock mulch, you just might want to take a new look at Xeriscaping. At its most basic, this is a practice designed to help make low-water-use landscaping an easily recognized concept. Here in the Truckee Meadows, water costs, mandatory watering schedules and plant deaths have demonstrated Xeriscaping is a smart choice and can look magnificent.

Xeriscaping represents a multi-step approach to incorporate soil amendments, compatible plant material and efficient irrigation into a well thought-out design. Try to look at your landscape in a simpler way and choose appropriate plants, native and naturalized, for our area. Use plantings that will survive and thrive Northern Nevada’s climate. And think organically at all times; part of your overall earth-wise gardening solution will conserve water with native and adapted plants and consume less synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, while reducing emissions from lawn equipment.

Planted veggies line a walkway

You don’ have to sacrifice style and grace to create a beautiful Xeriscaped garden. Instead of roses, peonies and Hydrangeas in flower beds, showcase the plants in a pot or urn that can be appreciated close up and maintained easier. For a green, clipped European-themed garden, you can spend a lot less effort, money and water using native plants to achieve the great designs and the first place to start is by asking questions of your landscaper or nursery. They have the professionals on staff with the native plant knowledge to steer you in the right direction.

 

 

 

Xeriscaping can reduce landscape water use by 60 percent or more and increase property values by as much as 15 percent, according to Colorado WaterWise – an agency focused on promoting water-efficient landscaping


Be Water Smart

Drip irrigation is gaining popularity in our state as we’ve begun to experience more drought and watering restrictions and should be part of our commitment to the intelligent use of water. Drip products are made of control zone components that control water flow (valves, filters and pressure regulators), distribution components that get water where it needs to go (blank tubing or dripline emitter tubing) and emission devices (drip emitters and low volume microsprays).
Drip systems are often the perfect solution for sparse planting schemes. Applying water directly to the plant roots without watering the areas in between, you not only cut down water use but also help prevent weed growth. It’s also ideal for plantings near buildings and paved areas, greatly reducing runoff and overspray that are wasteful and can ruin wooden structures – such as your fence or the side of your house.

Grass is still OK!

Xeriscape garden does not have to look dry and desolate, and it doesn’t require the absolute absence of turf grass. We loves turf and use it frequently in moderation as in a ‘turf medallion’ in an arid-type garden, or as a focal point, a destination or a way to set off the plantings that surround it. Your landscape will still benefit from turf’s summer cooling properties and even more exciting, the sizeable water expense savings.

Also, you might highlight interesting architecture and use brightly painted yard art, urns, stones and plants with colorful flowers, foliage, fruit and bark to lend year-round intrigue to a Xeriscape.

For any questions about how you can produce a wonderful Xeriscaped landscape, give your landscape professional or nursery a call. They’ll spend the time to provide you with smart, affordable ideas on how you can transition your old-school yard into a stylish, sturdy outdoor environment designed for Nevada.

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