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Drip Irrigation – Essential for a Water Efficient Garden

When we think about installing a garden, often what come to our mind first are which plants to select and where to plant them.  While these are all very important, there is another equally important aspect – the irrigation system. IMG_6629 For a water efficient garden, drip irrigation is the way to go. Benefits of Drip Irrigation

  • Saves water. Compared with other irrigation methods such as sprinkling, drip uses 30% to 50% less water.   Water is delivered by “drips” right into the plant’s root area,  with little runoff or evaporation.  Almost all the water delivered is absorbed by the plants, translating to very high watering efficiency.  As California is still in its historical drought, and outdoor watering accounts for 50% – 70% of a household’s total water usage, it is essential that we conserve water .  For outdoor landscape watering, drip is the best answer for conservation.


  • Works great with mulch.  Chips in the mulch can be carried away by the spraying water from a sprinkler, which can expose the soil beneath and accelerate evaporation.  With drip irrigation, as water will drip down slowly into the soil, it will not move the chips and mulch can stay for a long time.
  • No water on weeds.  The precise positioning of drips means water is provided only to the plants, not to any others like weeds.  This will prevent or slow the growth of weeds.
  • Saves time and effort.  An automatic controller can be installed along with drip irrigation, so all the watering can be done automatically.  With at least one emitter for one plant, all the plants will receive the water they need.
  • Included in the Santa Clara Water District’s Landscape Rebate Program for qualified households.  The automatic controller and compatible rain sensor are covered if they are pre-approved during on-site inspection.

Installing Drip Irrigation While drip irrigation can conserve water really well and saves time and effort, it requires advanced planning.  Here are the major steps of installing drip irrigation for a new garden.

  • Have a garden design and positions for each of the plants.
  •  After the yard is prepared, lay out the plants at where they are supposed to be according to the plan.


  • Lay the pipes, install drip emitter for every plant.


  • Cover the pipes and the surface of the garden with soil and mulch.  None of the pipes are visible now, only the beautiful plants!

dripirrigation2 Weather-Based Irrigation Controller and Rain Sensor An automatic controller can be installed to automate the drip watering. The length and frequency of each watering can easily be entered from the touch pad of the controller. To further conserve water, a rain sensor can be connected to a smart drip irrigation controller.  When it rains, the information will be transmitted to the controller, which will then delay the next watering scheduled, avoiding the waste of the water. IMG_6654 Some controllers have mobile phone apps that work with them.  After you download the app, you can view information or operate the controller from your phone, anywhere you go. IMG_6657 In summary, drip irrigation can best conserve water for outdoor landscape watering.  With an automatic controller and mobile phone app, it is really convenient too to use a drip system.  Choose controllers that can work with a rain sensor – take full advantage of all the rains and conserve even more water! img_6626                

From Brown to California Native Charm

The brown lawn has been an eye sore to the owner of the house for quite a while.  He had been wanting to replace it with something more beautiful, but did not know where to start.   Since California’s drought five years ago, he put in his effort to conserve water, turning off the sprinklers. Sure enough, the lawn went brown.  He heard about Landscape Conversion Rebate Program, but did not know how it worked. Water Efficient Garden Conversion When he had a chance to talk to the designer, he was happy to find out everything would be taken care of from end-to-end.  Not only will they design a water efficient garden to replace the lawn, but also take care of the program application paperwork.  Hassle free – that was exactly the way he wanted. Designing the Garden The owner favored a natural and easy look for the garden; he also had some pebble stones from his last project, which he would like to repurpose for the new garden. The designer decided to do a “California Native” garden.  The selection of plants showed this focus. California Native Plants California has many native plants, which are great for gardening.  Adapted to California’s dry and windy environment, they are hardy, strong and can thrive without any care.  There are a lot of benefits gardening with native plants:

  • Water efficient:  they do not need that much water; compared to a lawn, a garden with mostly native plants can save a significant amount of water;
  • Low maintenance: they can thrive on their own; no or little care is needed.
  • Attracting pollinators:  the bees, birds and butterflies sure like the plants that they know well for tens of thousands of years.  Those bees and birds need more food, and this will provide them.

These California Native plants are picked for this garden. Douglas Iris:  beautiful blue iris, native to areas along west coast. Native Plants for a Water Efficient Garden Buckwheat: pretty small pink flowers will bloom most of the year, its nectar is the favorite of butterflies. Monkey Flower: The full yellow blossom can be seen everywhere along the coast in spring and summer.  Some cultivars have bright red flowers, which are equally pretty. California Poppy: the golden state flower. CA Golden Poppy Matilija Poppy Native Plants for a Water Efficient Garden The designer included the design into application materials and submitted it.  2 weeks later they received the Notice to Proceed. Installing the Garden All the materials were purchased. IMG_5666_1 The brown grass was first removed. Next was to create a miniature “nature”.  The curves for “mountains” were added, and a “river” was made with the cobble stones. Then the piping was done, all the plants planted.  The whole area was covered with black mulch, which contrasts nicely with the river and the colors of the flowers. WaterEfficientGarden The California native plants: Douglas Iris, Golden Poppy, and Monkey Flower IMG_6634 Irrigation Equipment Upgrade Along with the lawn conversion approval, the garden also qualified for an upgrade with automatic irrigation controller and rain sensor.  Both were installed after the garden. With the rain sensor, when it rains, it will detect and transfer the information to the controller, which will shut off the next watering scheduled.   This way the irrigation water can be saved. IMG_6654 It rained right after this was installed.  It worked! IMG_6657 Within a couple days, a brown lawn was successfully transformed to a beautiful water efficient garden.  The eye sore is gone, and the owner has something nice to enjoy and more to look forward to. G1