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Water, water everywhere

September 30, 2009


I was at the Trial Gardens near the University Center for the Arts, and the sprinklers came on to water some of the flower beds. This was about one o'clock in the afternoon.

I thought watering in the middle of the day was always discouraged by the experts because of how much of the water is lost due to evaporation in the warm midday temperatures. Why wouldn't this apply to the Trial Gardens? What's up there?

Cam’s answer:

Sometimes I ask the grounds crew to turn them on in the afternoon so I can soak my hide and cool off – oh, wait, you weren’t supposed to know that.

Actually, you ask a good question. I talked with Jim Klett, professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and mastermind of Many Things Green, and he told me that the irrigation infrastructure is the reason behind daytime watering at the Trial Gardens.

“The reason we’ve had to water during the day versus at night is that we use non-potable College Lake water, which is full of material that seems to clog up our dosatron (fertilizer injector) that is used to fertigate the plants,” Jim says. “Fertigate means we liquid fertilize when we water the plants.”

All these cool terms!

Jim adds that the screens at the dosatron clog and make the irrigation system clog. “Therefore, we need to water during the day when we have students working who can continually clean the screen on the fertilizer injector and make the irrigation system run efficiently. We’d like to water at night but cannot due to this problem.”

Photo: CSU landscape horticulturist Jim Klett and Brian Austin, horticulture and landscape architecture student and student coordinator of the 2008 Annual Flower Trial Garden.