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In these times of water conservation and water runoff concerns, one of the easiest and smartest things a home gardener can do is to replace their old-fashioned sprinkler heads with new water efficient heads.

 

Ron Vanderhoff

When I suggest to home gardeners that they switch their sprinklers heads I often see them get a bit nervous. For many gardeners any changes to their irrigation system is a bit like tinkering with the motherboard of their computer or re-wiring their home. It might be a good idea, but it’s too technical.

But this one’s easy. If you can unscrew the cap on a bottle of water and then put it back on again, you can do this. In just a few minutes you can give your irrigation system a tune up, conserve water, reduce puddling and water running into the gutter and improve the health of your plants.

MP Rotators are now the best, most efficient sprinkler head in the world.

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It’s easy. Here’s what you do:

1.  Pick an irrigation station and turn it on for a minute or two. Make a list on how many full circle sprinklers are on this station. Then count the quarter and half circle sprinklers. If you have any heads that spray a long narrow rectangular space count these as well. These skinny rectangular spaces aren’t too common, but for any of these make a note of whether the sprinkler is on the far right, far left or in the middle. If you want to switch stations to MP’s, then just make the same count for each station. 

2. Unscrew the very top sprinkler head; it’s called the “insert”. If it is a pop-up sprinkler you’ll need to pull up the riser a couple of inches to get a grip on it. If the insert is snug, you might need a pair of pliers. This little insert is the only part you are going to replace. You’re not going to do any digging or even get any dirt on your hands.

3.  Now, bring this list, along with the insert that you just removed, to a store that sells MP Rotators. Don’t worry about distinguishing quarter heads and half heads; MP’s are adjustable from 90 degrees to 210 degrees. You want to ask for “MP Rotators”. Hardware, home improvement and discount stores don’t carry them, but premium nurseries and irrigation specialty stores do. Call ahead if you’re not sure.

4.  When you get back home, with the water off, just unscrew the old inserts and screw on the new ones. Aim them in the right direction and, with the water on, adjust the radius of the spray by turning the little screw on the top. If you don’t have a tiny little screwdriver for this, buy the two dollar one at the same place you got the new inserts. It will make adjustments a lot easier.

That’s about it. In just a few minutes you’ve improved your sprinkler system, saved water, reduced runoff and made your plants just a little bit healthier.

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What’s so special about MP Rotators? Simply put, they are the best sprinkler in the world; precisely engineered and one of the worlds best water conservation devices. First, they deliver water extremely evenly over their entire coverage area, much better than any other sprinkler. Second, MP’s apply water in slightly larger droplets, with almost no mist. With no mist, less water is blown off the landscape or lost to evaporation.  

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, MP sprinklers deliver water to the garden at a much slower rate. For example, a current full circle spray head in your garden probably delivers a little over two gallons of water every minute. MP’s deliver water about four times more slowly. This means your irrigation water will soak in better and water more deeply, especially in clay soils. Of course, this also means that you will need to water longer – but with much better absorption you’ll get the water deeper into the soil, create more deeply rooted plants and loose less water to evaporation. You’ll use less water, because you won’t need to water as frequently. 

MP’s also don’t clog, can be mixed and matched on the same station, and have adjustable arcs and radius. For all these reasons just about every water district, city utility and irrigation expert is suggesting these little devices.

Best of all, if you can unscrew and re-screw the cap on a bottle of water, you can upgrade your sprinkler system yourself, in just a few minutes.  

Questions from Readers August 9.

Question:
On the 405 freeway I drive by a long soundwall that always has vines blooming on it. It’s very pretty, between Culver and Jamboree on the northeast side. What are these vines?
 
Kris, Irvine
 
Answer:
Actually, there are five different vines on this wall, with something in bloom all the time. The warm season bloomers are Scarlet Trumpet Vine (Distictis buccinatoria) and River’s Trumpet Vine (Distictis 'Rivers'). Those that bloom primarily in the cool winter and spring season are Flame Vine (Pyrostegia venusta) and Cat’s Claw (Macfadyena unguis-cati). Also present is Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata).

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens , Corona del Mar.


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