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Watering the lawn
Old 11-28-2006, 10:50 AM   #1
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Watering the lawn

Partial rant and serious question here.

Father-in-law is an invalid and lives by himself in his own house with full-time caretakers. One of his other daughter’s husband and myself are the ones who take care of all maintenance/repair issues. His worthless sons, who all live close by, can’t be bothered to find the time to drop by and fix anything.

On Thanksgiving we dropped by and found all the extended family there. As soon as I walked in the caretaker grabbed me to point out some problems, “Come here Leonidas baby, I need to show you some things wrong around here”.

While I was there making a list of stuff I have to come back and fix, I decided to do a walk-around and see what else might need to be taken care of. I found a problem that I thought I had fixed several months ago, was again a problem because it had been “unfixed” by one of my useless brothers in law.

Okay, the rant is over – here’s my problem:

The house does not have a sprinkler system. A yard crew comes by every week and does the mowing and edging. But lack of watering and dry conditions were killing off the grass at the beginning of this past summer. I planted new grass and set up the sprinkler, but discovered that the caretakers can’t leave FIL alone to go out and turn it on and off or move it around. I thought I had a simple solution – a battery powered timer that fits on the end of the outdoor spigot, and to which I then attached the hose and sprinkler to the other end. The yard guy was told to make sure he put it back in the right spot after mowing and I figured I had solved the problem.

My Thanskgiving walk through included the discovery that the yard was turning to straw. The sprinkler was right where it should be, but the timer had been disconnected from the hose. One of my helpful BIL’s had removed it, because when it ran the interior pipes in the house made a knocking noise. Or so he said. He blamed it on an anti-siphon device installed in the plumbing.

I didn’t ask specifics about what he was talking about, mostly because I’m not sure I would be able to resist the temptation to wrap a hand around his throat while asking the question I really wanted the answer to. “Did it ever occur to you to call me and tell me the yard wasn’t being watered anymore?”

I’m not sure what he was trying to describe. I thought it might be something like a water hammer, but those happen when water is turned off, not when it is running.

My problem is that I have to either fix the noise issue, or find another way to water the old guy’s yard. There’s nobody I can depend on to turn it on and off manually, I’m not driving an hour each way to water his yard three or four days a week, and I’m already planning on giving him a Christmas gift by spending money on other stuff that needs to be fixed.

Any suggestions / advice?

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Re: Watering the lawn
Old 11-28-2006, 10:58 AM   #2
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Re: Watering the lawn

We use the same technique (poor man's sprinkler system) to water our lawn. We have 3 timers attached at the 3 outside faucets. Each set to a different hour, in the early morning while we sleep. No noises in the (old) pipes. Work long as the lawn cutters or a neighbor rights them when we're not there.

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Re: Watering the lawn
Old 11-28-2006, 11:10 AM   #3
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Re: Watering the lawn

I have similar situation with my mother. It is very frustrating. Timers work great by the way. I have recently set one up on a rental that is on the market. It has only a very small enclosed patio area, but I put a new garden in it and didn't want to be running back and forth (1/2 hr each way) to water patio garden.

I would say, the noise in the house for 30 minutes a day should be tolerable I would think.

I have sprinklers at my house and travel for work a lot for long periods. When I came back this last trip after five months, I had dead grass on 2 1/2 acres. go to my sprinkler box to see someone turned it off. (gardner most likely) Nothing said to me by anyone. This is not the first time I have found them turned off. It is the third time. Since they come on at night, I just don't see how this is a concern to anyone. But who cares, right - it's not their money.
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Re: Watering the lawn
Old 11-28-2006, 01:14 PM   #4
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Re: Watering the lawn

Originally Posted by Leonidas
I’m not sure what he was trying to describe. I thought it might be something like a water hammer, but those happen when water is turned off, not when it is running.

Any suggestions / advice?
Flow noises depend on the piping geometry, whether the piping is free to move, and the water pressure (which varies with the time of day and the weekday/weekend).

It's hard to mess with the variables. For example the piping is probably all inside walls and it'd be hard to figure out what geometry/length wouldn't vibrate. You could check that exposed piping is attached to studs or exterior walls with brackets, but most noise comes from unsecured piping that's inaccessible inside the walls. You could add a pressure regulator to the circuit but it has to work with supply pressure, which could vary with the rest of the neighborhood (morning bathrooms, evening appliances, and weekend/TV-commercial toilet flushing). All of that can get pretty expensive too. I'm only mentioning it in case there's a "Well, duh" answer staring at you.

Three other (more expensive) options:
- drought-tolerant shrubs/plants that don't require extra water,
- a full in-ground sprinkler system, or
- a low-flow drip irrigation hose that either lays on top of the planting or is buried under it. This depends on whether that part of the yard sees lawnmowers or other edged trimming tools.

Finally, those family members who mess with your solutions should be in charge of taking care of the mess or else butt out. But I'm guessing that's not likely to happen. I guess your only consolation is that the caregiver was keeping an eye out for the problems!

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