Dry Turf in Common Areas

You’ve probably noticed the turf in the common areas looking dry.  I thought you might want to know what’s going on with this.

First, we’ve deliberately cut back on watering to control our spending.  We are projecting to exceed our water budget for the year.  As you can see from the graph below, the watering got out of hand earlier in the year.

WaterConsumptionAndTarget

Our former landscaper did not monitor this closely, so we had a month (May/June) where we consumed approximately 1/3 of our yearly water budget.  When MJS sees a large spike in the water bill, they tell the landscaper to reduce the watering.

I’ve plotted our water usage for this year (red line; note Sept-Dec 2010 has only our meter fee) and the past two years.  The purple dashed line is approximately where I’d like to see our water usage in the future.  I’ll be working with the new landscaper to make sure we stay closer to the target in 2011.

One change that I believe will help us is asking the landscaper to read the meter before and after a watering that occurs immediately after a change in the watering schedule.  This will tell us how much water we’ll consume with each watering and, when combined with the watering schedule, we’ll be able to project our usage for the month.  As I alluded to above, we react to water bills—which is too late—and get surprises like we had in June.

By the way, rain sensors are also helpful in controlling our water consumption.  The one at the front entrance is not functioning, so we’re going to replace it.  The rear entrance doesn’t have a rain sensor at all, so one will be added.  Once we have good rain sensors in place and adjusted properly, we should see the watering skipped when we’ve had good soaking rain.

Another factor contributing to the dry turf is the condition of the sprinkler heads.  Our new landscaper evaluated the sprinkler system and found 27 rotors not rotating properly, three clogged nozzles, one broken nozzle, and four heads that need to be raised.  As a result, we’re not getting even coverage.  With the unusual dry spell we’ve had this month, the areas where the sprinkler system is not performing well are really apparent.

Since we’re so late in the season—roughly a month until our typical first frost—we’ve elected to postpone the sprinkler repair until winter when we can get a cheaper rate.

I’ve had someone specifically ask why the park is so dry.  The short answer is that it appears the landscaper has over compensated in his quest to comply with MJS’ request to reduce our water consumption.  On Monday, I got approval from the board to increase the watering and immediately asked the landscaper to make the change.  We should start to see some improvement within the next week.

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