The combination of strong rains last monsoon season and good winter rains resulted in a profusion of poppies this year, so it came as a surprise when as spring approached a number of trees began losing leaves and the perennials in one large planting area did not return. Yet at the same time other trees on the property were leafing out. The last major hand watering had taken place about a month ago when a number of plants were fertilized so this unexpected die back had been postponed. Investigation into the mysteries of the irrigation system started with testing water flow at the solenoid valves. The first step was manually turning on each zone and checking for flow at the valve then walking the property looking for evidence of water. Positive results were obtained for several zones but not all and some closely space planters were not all receiving water. Next the irrigation heads were inspected, since many irrigation heads were originally clogged this explanation seemed a likely possibility for the lack of water. Recovering the locations of irrigation heads is still an ongoing process but those recovered did not appear clogged nor were the drip lines. Some irrigation heads had metal installed and could be located with a metal detector unfortunately most did not. The next step involved deduction, what is the irrigation pattern? What zones deliver water to which planters? This process involved back flushing from each watering head to the solenoid valve. It turns out that all the zones meet on the west side of the property and a number of closely spaced planters receive water from different zones, explaining the lack of water at some irrigation heads when manually testing. Working out the planter/zone relationships is ongoing and a map will be completed. Finally, testing each zone from each controller revealed several solenoids that had stopped working or were working intermittently. So new solenoids were ordered and hopefully this will solve the problem. The best bet for desert gardens are drought tolerant low water water plants like Yuccas and other native desert adapted plants and avoid high maintenance species.
|Yucca in bloom|