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Dear Jim: This time of the year I water my lawn and garden almost everyday, yet they still look bad. I will hate to see my next water bill. Am I doing something wrong and what are the best sprinklers to use? - Mike G.
A: It sounds as though you might be watering too often, yet not thoroughly enough. There are right and wrong ways to water plants and using the proper type of sprinklers can make a significant difference. Overwatering or watering too often can be as detrimental as a drought.
First, take an inventory of the plants you have and draw a rough layout of where they are in your yard. An expert at a local garden store can tell you how much water (often in inches per week) each plant type needs. You may want to relocate some plants to group them according to their water needs.
If you are using hand-held sprinklers, which can be effective, it is important to know how much water you are laying down. The best method is to use one of the new sprinkler designs which have a built-in water meter. They cost only a couple of dollars more than a regular sprinkler. They can easily save the extra cost many times over in lower water bills.
Another option is to install a water meter on the faucet and then attach your hose to it. Some operate on battery power. They have digital readouts and automatically shut off the water when it reaches the desired volume. A tiny inexpensive (about $8) mechanical water meter can be screwed onto the hose end. Its rotating dial indicates the gallons of water sprayed.
If your budget is too limited for an underground sprinkler system and you would rather watch baseball than move a sprinkler around the lawn, use a traveling rotary sprinkler. It slowly moves across your yard automatically. One cute design looks similar to a red fire truck with a sprinkler on top.
Inexpensive oscillating sprinklers are good for medium to large areas. They distribute a lot of water, about one-quarter inch every hour. Adjustable ones are best. Since they spray the water high in the air, some water is lost to evaporation, especially in dry climates, before it reaches the ground.
If the sound does not bother you, impulse sprinklers can be very effective and efficient. They spray the water out radially and relatively low to the ground. Look for better ones with a deflector to control the spray distance and an adjustable diffuser pin to break up the jet spray into a coarse mist.
The best sprinkler method uses electronic controls and manifolds to control the water volume individually for different areas. The feed lines can be under or above-ground for easy installation. You will likely use a combination of pop-up lawn, shrub and rotary sprinklers to do your entire yard.
Instant Download Update Bulletin No. 619 - buyer's guide of 11 hand hose-end, underground sprinkler/timer system manufacturers listing types and accessories available, selector guide showing types and features of underground sprinkler systems and hose-end sprinklers, illustrations, and watering tips.
Dear Jim: I have to replace a window pane in my garage. It is just a single pane, but I am not very good at applying the glazing to hold the window in place. What type of tools should I get? - Anne S.
A: Since you probably won't do this job often, don't buy tools. Some window glazing compound, such as DAP Latex Window Glazing, is available in a tube with a special rectangular nozzle to lay a smooth bead.
Remove the old glazing and clean the sash with a wire brush. Spread some glazing on the sash and press the glass into it. Hold the special nozzle at an angle and fill in over the glass. Paint it with latex paint after three days.