WET BEHIND THE EARS

I live in a neighborhood where most people irrigate their lawns with an automatic irrigation system, and my lawn sticks out like a sore thumb in the summer because I don't. In the spring, I have great intentions of setting up the hose every day on a corner of my acre lot that is primarily turf and rotating it during the week to eventually cover the whole lawn. By midsummer, I usually give up and re-seed in the fall. Of course I could hire an irrigation contractor to install an elaborate system to save me the pain of lugging a hose, but I like to do things myself (like the 40-foot ladder I bought last summer to paint my house, which is still unpainted). However, once I've got something stuck in my mind, I can't shake it. I'm determined to install my own system, so when the Grounds Maintenance editorial staff was invited to a Rain Bird Irrigation Basics class, I quickly stepped up to the plate and volunteered to travel to Lincoln, Neb., for the two-day, eight-hour-a-day training.

The class was made up of public relations personnel from Rain Bird's agency, Swanson Russell, as well as a few editors in the trade. I felt confident that I could breeze through the course, having maintained an irrigation system on the golf course I worked on in my former life, and having overseen the design and installation of an irrigation system at the turf research facility that I operated while I was a professor at the University of Maryland. I quickly learned how much I didn't know about irrigation. The condensed course covered all aspects of irrigation design, installation, operation, maintenance and troubleshooting. Now that the course is complete, I feel like I know just enough about irrigation to be dangerous, but not enough to be able to install a system without assistance. I'll follow up with the advanced course this fall. See, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

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Have you thought about irrigation training yourself? There have been some tremendous advances in the field of irrigation over the past few years. New products and techniques in control, design, environmental monitoring, irrigation components and even GPS mapping have been introduced in recent years. It's also a good idea to bone-up on the basics. Last month, we conducted a Reader Poll to determine where you get your irrigation training. See the results in this issue on page 7.

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