Klamath County Master Gardeners design and deliver ‘DIY’ irrigation program

Water for outdoor use has been restricted in Klamath County in recent years, raising concerns about traditional lawns and the resources needed to maintain them. Gardeners lament that irrigation companies in the area install older technologies that use significantly more water. Homeowners were interested in converting to drip irrigation but couldn't access professionals to install it, nor were they confident in their ability to install it themselves. Homeowners are also interested in alternative lawns, but there is little information specific to Klamath conditions that would help them making a good choice.

In response, Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardeners in the county researched alternative lawns and sought ways to help gardeners understand drip irrigation better. The alternative lawns team developed a list of potential lawn candidates and criteria for participating in a rigorous trial of the possible alternative lawn covers and established a small cohort participating in a pilot trial.

Part of being successful in an alternative lawn cover is being able to water during the establishment phase. Water applied multiple times a day is important during germination but hand watering with a hose several times per day isn’t feasible. Drip irrigation is one way to effectively water throughout the day during the establishment phase.

Extension created a teaching kit made of labeled irrigation parts from a local, easily accessed home improvement store. Extension gathered a variety of resources for those interested in drip irrigation. Materials included:

  • A relevant slide deck.
  • Educational pamphlets from an irrigation manufacturer.
  • Practice design activities.

In addition, Master Gardeners recruited a panel of experts willing to answer drip irrigation questions and hosted “Intro to DIY (Do it Yourself) Drip Irrigation” class sessions. Both class sessions filled their maximum of twenty seats, with a wait list. These sessions were the most popular Master Gardener classes held in Klamath for 2023.

As a result, there is increased community interest for another set of class sessions. Based on the results of alternative lawn cover trial, it will be opened to a larger cohort of gardeners in 2024.

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