It's Irrigation Day

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
As a California transplant living in the desert of Arizona, there are a few things that really trip me out and one of them is flood irrigation. Every two weeks in the summer and once a month in the fall, winter, and spring months, we irrigate our yard with a "flood."

Very few homes in Arizona actually have this type of irrigation. It's usually found in older neighborhoods and neighborhoods zoned for agricultural use. My sister, who is an expert on all things garden/desert/plants blogged about flood irrigation here and explained that the water sinks deeply into the soil which makes for deep roots for both grass and trees.  It also helps to flush out salts that accumulate in the soil.

Best seat in the house on a hot summer day

Snow melt and rain water is accumulated throughout the year in a system  of reservoirs and canals. One of these canals runs right behind our backyard. We sign up to irrigate through our local utility company. We are allowed up to 3 hours of constant flood irrigation but we usually sign up for just an hour and a half to two hours. The utility company then sends out a schedule with our irrigation time (which lately has been in the middle of the night!). When it's our time, I drive to the end of the street to open the flood gates and turn on the valve that you can see above to get the water flowing.

Although it looks wasteful, if done properly, flood irrigation is a very efficient way to water. Because of the heat where we leave, a lot of the water from daily sprinkler use evaporates before it has a chance to soak in. A once a month deep water is much better for plants in the desert than a daily, light sprinkle. The key is to figure out just how much water you need and order the right amount. It's also important that your yard is nice and even or a little hill or slope will send that water right into the street. Sadly, I have seen some neighbors water their driveways on occasion.

Our first irrigation -we hadn't figured out how much water we needed and obviously ordered too much.

My dog Sodapop goes crazy over the irrigation. As soon as she sees the water flowing, she runs up to the valve and lays right next to it. The boys love it too. They think it's a blast to take a pair of my flip flops and have "boat" races. I love the irrigation because it brings a ton of fun critters to the backyard - ducks, snakes, toads, and all kinds of cool shore birds. 

Today is irrigation day and we are fortunate that it wasn't scheduled for the middle of the night. It is scheduled for late afternoon which is the hottest time of day. The boys are stoked!

We've been irrigating this way for over a year now and I still think it's kind of bizarre (although we have the happiest fruit trees ever). Almost as bizarre (but not as scary) as the scorpions out here - which I'll never get used to. But that's an entirely different post.


sara said...

That is sso crazy. I've never even heard of flood irrigation. But good lord would i have fun jumping and splashing in it! It's like a GIANT puddle on a rainy day.

Noelle said...

I wish we still lived in a home that had flood irrigation. I loved it in the summertime!

Finley and Oliver said...

Sara, it's totally crazy and totally fun!

Rosie@leavesnbloom said...

I would love to be able to witness this for myself and so would my teenage boys - it would be like being in a water park. I remember the first time Noelle wrote about this I was amazed and thought that your house was going to flood! I think it was the photos of when you ordered too much water made me think that.

Have a great 4th July weekend with all your family

:) Rosie in Scotland

Finley and Oliver said...

Thanks for dropping by, Rosie! It really is very interesting. I have to admit that I worried my house would flood the first time we irrigated too.

We spent the 4th of July in Scotland (Oban) several years ago. Some of the locals bought us pints to help us celebrate. Looking forward to returning some day. :)


Post Grad Hair Cut said...

Wow this is incredible!

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