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 by Leonel Gomez, ArtisTree Irrigation Maintenance Manager

Q:  Why do I see irrigation systems running during a downpour?  Isn’t this wasting our precious water resource?

A:  Unfortunately, yes it is.  Fortunately, Florida has a statute for the use and installation of rain sensors.  It is now a law that all automatic landscape irrigation systems include a rain sensor to stop the water flow once a specific amount of rainfall has occurred.  It sounds as if you’re seeing either older irrigation systems that have not been retrofitted or a faulty new irrigation system.  Either way, a working sensor should be installed to conserve our water resources.  Rain sensors are widely available and an irrigation professional or homeowner can easily install them.  According to UF/IFAS Extension Service, the advantages of installing a rain sensor are:

  • Conserves water -- prevents irrigation after recent rain events.
  • Saves money -- reduces utility bills by interrupting the irrigation system after adequate rainfall.
  • Reduces wear on the irrigation system because the system runs only when necessary.
  • Reduces disease damage by eliminating unnecessary irrigation events.
  • Helps protect surface and groundwater by reducing the runoff and deep percolation that carries pollutants, such as fertilizers, into storm drains and groundwater.

Plus, it’s the law.


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 by Mike Casper, ArtisTree Irrigation Manager

 As ArtisTree's Irrigation Service Supervisor,  Leonel Gomez responds to every tough challenge with four words that have become his trademark:  "Let me try something.”

Take the hot summer morning when Leonel and ArtisTree’s irrigation crew were out in a small Sarasota community. The well pump was down, and the homeowner association president was clearly agitated, fearing that his neighborhood would be on the hook for a $3,000 replacement cost.

ArtisTree's crew peered down inside the six-inch-wide pipe. Sure enough, no water, but the pipe was vibrating. That was good; at least the motor was running. But a quick diagnosis revealed that the wires had twisted around the pipe and had become pinched. The men pulled the wires up. No motor, no pump. Both had dropped 80 feet down.

Most landscape maintenance companies would throw in the towel and quote a replacement cost. But Leonel stood up, wiped the sweat off his brow and said, "Let me try something.”

He then fashioned a nearly 80-foot-long rod of half-inch pipe and used duct tape to attach soil staples that would act as hooks to dislodge the pump and motor.

Eight hours later, after twisting and turning Leonel’s invention (and two near successes where they almost had the motor and pump pulled to the top before it dropped), the ArtisTree crew finally accomplished what it set out to do: lift the 200-pound assembly up through 80 feet of six-inch pipe in the dead heat of the summer -- a nearly impossible feat.

The HOA president was so delighted that he kissed a crew member standing nearby and then turned to Leonel to kiss him as well. Leonel took three steps back before the kiss ever landed. Still, he was glad to have helped saved the community a significant amount of money.  For  another day, he went home tired but happy to have a job that let him flex his skills, support his family -- and make a difference in someone else’s life. 


Leonel Gomez, ArtisTree Irrigation Service Supervisor




 by Mike Casper, Irrigation Manager

I remember a non-ArtisTree client telling me how he locked his timer box before leaving on a three-week summer vacation. He left the key with a neighbor, but it didn’t matter because the battery decided to die right after he left. He returned to a brown lawn that eventually had to be re-sodded.

"My neighbor felt terrible about it and whispered that sprinkler systems always intimidated her,” he said, wondering why she didn’t tell him that special little fact when she accepted his key.

There’s no reason why any homeowner should feel intimidated by an irrigation system, especially if it’s serviced by a reputable landscape maintenance company. But because we’re asked often, here’s a checklist of what you can personally do to head off irrigation problems:

  • Change the battery in your irrigation timer once a year.
  • Always have a designated person who has access to your timer if you’re away from home.
  • Turn off your system in the rainy season to conserve our precious resources.
  • Inspect your meter. If it's turning and the water is off, you may have a leak.
  • Consider an upgrade to your system by installing more efficient nozzles.
  • Make sure your sprinkler-head guards or “donuts” are each trimmed so irrigation heads can pop up and water effectively.

Follow these six easy steps and you won’t be left high and dry. Take time to familiarize yourself with your irrigation system, and you'll have a beautiful lawn to show for it.