As California’s drought went from bad to worse in recent years, the Community Lutheran Church (CLC) and Saddleback Children’s Center in Rancho Santa Margarita knew something had to give.
The landscape surrounding the church and school looked pretty rough; but, worse, CLC was using an average of 1.2 million gallons of water a year. The main culprit was a 1980 irrigation system which, in addition to being outdated, had fallen into serious disrepair.
“With California’s recent severe drought, their water bills were continuing to climb, the landscape was suffering and runoff was damaging the parking lot and other hardscape,” said Alex Nathanson, Rain Bird’s corporate marketing brand manager.
Last fall, folks at the church sought help from the Santa Margarita Water District. A commercial landscape irrigation survey was conducted at no charge by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, revealing broken sprinkler heads, leaks, high water pressure and poor sprinkler coverage throughout the property. An outdated control system and the lack of any weather-sensing or rain shut-off devices made matters worse.
Moreover, the landscape consisted primarily of turf, with substantial thatch build-up, making it unlikely that water was reaching the underlying soil and roots.
Visit CLC today and you’d never guess what it looked like only a few weeks ago. Rain Bird, working with several other companies as well as church volunteers, provided a comprehensive makeover for the landscape. In Rain Bird’s case, the project was seen not only as a great way to mark Smart Irrigation Month in July but also to highlight the principles behind the company’s 2015 initiative called “25 Ways to Save.”
Working from a detailed renovation plan prepared by Peter Mowery, design director with San Clemente-based C2 Collaborative Landscape Architecture, partners in the charitable project set to work.
Mountain States Wholesale Nursery and Apollo Wood Products stepped up with donations and discounts on native plants, trees and a mountain of mulch. A-G Sod Farms helped provide new water-efficient sod for the functional turf areas. Contractor George Alonzo and his crew from Advanced Patio & Landscape provided the project labor, taking advantage of a tractor loader backhoe from Compact Power Equipment Rental to remove old plants and shrubs, dig holes for new trees, transport materials and improve the site grading.
“While much of the old turf was replaced with native plants, trees and mulch, the church members and preschool kids still needed grassy areas for events and playtime,” said Rain Bird’s Nathanson. “The plan incorporated three sections of new water-efficient sod, complete with intelligent irrigation: Rain Bird’s 5000 Plus PRS pressure regulating rotors are watering the large back patio area; 1800SAMP45 pressure regulating sprays with high efficiency R-VAN rotary nozzles are irrigating the front hill; and XFS subsurface drip emitter tubing is keeping the play area green, cool and healthy for the kids.”
Rain Bird donated all of the irrigation products needed to transform the old sprinkler system.
Nathanson said the renovation is likely to save as much as 500,000 gallons of water a year, “maybe more once everything gets established.”
Check out this video about the project: