Rain Machines

As part of our home automation work, and a setup we actually got up and running last summer, are the new RainMachines. These are Internet of Things irrigation control units that allow us to control traditional irrigation valves via a handy app. This includes not just scheduling — which is so much simpler than an traditional Rain Dial or other similar units on the market — but we can sync the setup to our own weather station (which we installed shortly after buying the place) and thus automatically adjusts the amount of water used based upon current conditions: this is particularly handy in the winter when we have wet weather.

The Rain Machine stuff integrates into the Home App, so similar to the Philips Hues lighting we’ve been setting up, I can just pop up Siri and tell it to run the irrigation to top up the bird baths. Last summer this included watering a portion of the entire garden area, but our gardener recently revamped the north garden irrigation and not only hooked up a second bath farther out from the house, but put in a dedicated run just for the two bird watering holes.

We actually have two units installed: one to handle the stuff near the house and a second unit located in the garage that takes care of the area by the big fir tree. That area as well as the west garden uses inefficient sprayers and I’m hoping to soon tackle the landscaping surrounding the house but finding a contractor I like has proven very difficult.

While the new irrigation for the birdbath was put in, our gardener also took care of a connecting in a couple of new lines and revamping the line that once circled the fig tree. I type “once” as we had a terrible storm this past winter. A video summary was posted a few months ago, but here are some shots of the tress we lost.

The yucca in the courtyard had just had a serious trim a few months earlier by our regular tree crew, but it still lost several large shoots. Then we lost two of the Coulter Pines out near the stables.

The saddest loss was the ancient fig tree. We knew it was planted when the house was built, but the stupid, and I mean stupid, previous owners thought it would be a great idea to pour concrete down the cavities. The weakened tree was no match for the hurricane force winds and was toppled during the night.

As if we didn’t already have enough reasons to think badly of the people who lived here for more than 20 years and let so many things go to pot and instead bought lots of ugly jewelry and filled up every closet with clothing while decorating every horizontal surface with framed photographs of themselves….

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