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Get 'smart' irrigation controller, learn how to use it

Regional Water Authority offers Rachio 3 deal and free workshop

Man with remote controller
Get a smart irrigation controller at a discount and learn how to use it free. (Photo courtesy RWA)

On the hottest day of the year, decide to water smarter.

This current heat wave is a reminder of how dependent our landscapes are on proper irrigation. But how much water does your garden need?

A "smart" controller takes some of the guess work out of watering. It acts like a thermostat for your sprinklers, using local weather conditions to determine when and how long your system should run.
Smart controllers can be expensive, up to $270 for a 16-zone system. And they can seem a little intimidating to set up.

The Regional Water Authority has answers to both: A Rachio 3 Controller offered at a deep discount and an online workshop to learn how to use it.

The controller is available for $75 plus tax to customers of RWA's member water providers. That's about two dozen local agencies.

According to the RWA, a Water Sense-labeled controller such as this Rachio model can save an average home about 13,500 gallons a year.

Now how to make the most of that technology: Take an online class.

RWA's free virtual workshop is set for noon Tuesday, Aug. 25. Advance registration is required.

"The Rachio Controllers have many features that help you maintain a beautiful garden," says the RWA.

During this virtual workshop you will learn:
-- How Rachio can make any yard smart
-- Overview of installation, hardware & software setup
-- An overview of each schedule type
-- An overview of how the app works
-- An overview of your yard and zones


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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