Charles (Bud) Knowles, founder of Wolf Creek, died July 8 at 11:30 pm in Dayton, Ohio, from complications of old age. Only six weeks before his 92nd birthday. A life well lived.
Bud is survived by his wife of 69 years, Jean Anne (Jan) Knowles; his oldest son Scott; his wife Jackie; and their children, Amanda Hamilton and Ben Knowles; along with great grandkids Harper and Hadley; his second oldest, Brooke Perin; her husband, Doug Perin; and their three daughters, Merideth, Logan, and Lily; his youngest son Chris; his wife Sue; and their two sons, Brannon and Trevor.
Bud was born August 18, 1929, in Wichita, Kansas, growing up on a small farm with his parents, brother Dell, and sisters Betty and Nancy.
Bud graduated from Wichita State University with an accounting degree, and immediately reported for duty as a draftee in the United States Marine Corp during the Korean War, serving with distinction. He was nominated to the Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Virginia, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, then stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California.
One evening at a dance at the Hollywood Palladium, he met his future wife, Jean Anne (Jan) Davidson. Jan had traveled to San Diego from Connecticut to visit friends. A long-distance relationship bloomed, with Bud making trips to meet Jan in Connecticut and New York City. They married in Connecticut in 1952 and their “honeymoon” was a cross-country drive back to Camp Pendleton.
After his time in the Marines, Bud joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Initially stationed in Newark, New Jersey, he was transferred to the Cincinnati office. Soon after he was moved to the Dayton, Ohio, office where, after a year as a field agent, he was promoted to the senior agent in charge of the Dayton branch. He was the youngest FBI agent to ever lead an office. Bud had the opportunity to meet with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and a framed autographed photo of Hoover proudly hung on his office wall until this day.
Bud knew his next assignment would be at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. He did not want to live near Washington and had become very comfortable in Dayton, so when he received his assignment, he decided to leave the FBI.
Thus, began Bud’s career as an entrepreneur. In 1961 he and Jan started the very successful Wolf Creek Garden Center. He was able to start a Saturday morning gardening talk show on the big local radio station, WHIO, and was a frequent guest on several Dayton TV shows, talking about landscaping — including several spots on the fledgling Phil Donahue show!
Bud was a builder and added many related services to the garden center business, full landscape service first, followed by an irrigation company. The irrigation business held special interest for Bud, and he added golf and agricultural irrigation and served on the board for the Irrigation Association. That board created the IA’s certification program. Bud built the largest irrigation business in a three-state area.
Bud’s success attracted the attention of irrigation manufacturer Rain Bird, who was looking to increase their presence in the Midwest. In 1979 Bud agreed to become the Rain Bird distributor. Selling off all other businesses, Bud focused on adding branches until Wolf Creek was in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Lexington.
An offshoot of the irrigation business happened in 1996. The temporary pipe used in agricultural irrigation was discovered by construction companies who needed temporary fluid bypass piping. This was the beginning of a new business called Portable Piping. Not only did the business grow to serve all of North America, Bud and key man Jim Orban developed and patented innovative fittings.
Bud’s sons, Scott and Chris, became more active in the business starting in the 70s and 80s, and eventually taking ownership by the early 2000’s. By 2002, Scott and Chris assumed all operations of the business. Sister Brooke joined the business for several years in 2007. For many years, Bud would come into the office a few hours a week to “see what’s going on” until he turned 85. On that day, he showed up, announced he was done, and cleaned out his office.
Woodworking was a casual interest that developed into a serious hobby over the past many years. Bud studied, joined groups, and earned certifications. He made wonderful furniture, including an ornate walnut desk for his wife. His granddaughter Logan caught his bug and now makes a living in carpentry.
A life well lived; Bud will be missed. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Visitation (4:00 to 5:30) and memorial service (5:30 to 6:00) on Wednesday July 14 at Baker-Hazel & Snider 555 Philadelphia Drive, Dayton, Ohio.
Bud asked for those inclined to send flowers to instead donate to a charity of their choice, especially those serving military, police, and children. Cards can be mailed to Wolf Creek Company 6051 Wolf Creek Pike Trotwood, OH 45426.
Save Water by Avoiding These Design and Installation Errors
To err is human. But that doesn’t mean some errors can’t be avoided. Irrigation mistakes often result in wasted water, and that reflects poorly on the industry.
Here are some of the most common missteps that can occur when designing and installing landscape irrigation systems.
#1. Mixing Sprinkler Head Types Within a Single Zone
Installing different types of irrigation heads within the same zone to operate at the same time is not a good idea. The precipitation / application rates of the various emitters used for rotors, sprays, bubblers, and drip systems are entirely different.
For instance, nozzles for rotor heads have a much lower IPH (inches per hour) rate than those for spray heads. So if you install a rotor head in a zone with spray heads, you’ll create a dry spot. Then, you’ll have to run this irrigation zone longer in order to apply enough water to cover the dry area, wasting both water and money.
#2. Setting the Same Running Times for All Zones
It’s important to program the irrigation controller so that the different zone types (rotor, spray, drip, etc.) have different running times. Again, because the precipitation rates differ for the various types of irrigation heads, the operating times should also be different. A zone with 0.20 IPH heads, for instance, will obviously need to run longer than an irrigation zone with 1.60 IPH heads.
According to the experts at Irrigation & Green Industry (IGIN) magazine, it’s a good idea for contractors to periodically assess their design and installation techniques in order to avoid irrigation mistakes. IGIN suggests asking yourself three questions:
Am I meeting — or exceeding – my customers’ expectations?
Am I doing so in such a way as to maximize my own profits?
Am I a responsible member of my community and setting a good example for the green industry?
Whenever the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it’s time to stop and reevaluate your methods.
#3. Failing to Achieve Head-to-Head Coverage
Regardless of whether you’re using sprays or rotors, all zones should provide head-to-head coverage. That means the maximum distance between heads/nozzles in each irrigation zone should match the nozzle manufacturer’s maximum throwing distance (10 feet, 15 feet, 25 feet, 35 feet, etc.) for that nozzle at your working pressure.
Do not attempt to increase the distance between heads in order to save on design, installation, operational or maintenance costs.
#4. Failing to Match Precipitation Rates
Some irrigation professionals incorrectly assume that they should use the same gallon per minute (GPM) nozzles in every head within a zone if they want to evenly water that area. Not so. There’s a reason system manufacturers produce so many different GPM nozzles.
By matching precipitation rates of the nozzles, you can save between 10 and 40 percent of the water used in any given zone. For instance, a rotor head that covers 1/3 of a circle should apply approximately 1/3 of the GPM as a rotor head in the same zone which covers a full circle. (For a more detailed explanation, see “Matched Precipitation Rates: Key to Water Efficiency.”)
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#5. Incorporating Planting Beds in the Same Zone as Grassy Areas
Improper zoning is one of the most common irrigation mistakes. Grassy areas should always be irrigated separately from shrub and planting beds. Almost all landscape plants have larger root systems than grass. This means they can exist on half of the amount of water that grass requires. Separate shrub/planting zones should be scheduled to irrigate more deeply but less often as turf zones.
#6. Neglecting to Install or Retrofit Rain Sensors
A rain sensor may be a contractor’s most valuable tool for reducing water waste. (After all, irrigation should always be regarded as a back-up for natural precipitation, not the other way around.)
Since most rain sensors can save between three and 15 percent of a system’s annual operating expenses, they generally pay for themselves in less than one season. In fact, these devices are so effective that, in several areas of the country, they are required on all new irrigation systems.
Plan Ahead to Promote Your Business During the Industry’s Showcase Month
July is Smart Irrigation Month — the irrigation industry’s showcase month.
So now’s the time to position your business as a leader in water-saving practices by promoting smart and efficient irrigation.
The Irrigation Association offers a plethora of resources to promote your business during Smart Irrigation Month. If you’ve never taken advantage of these marketing tools, you’re missing out on effective ways to enhance your brand.
Social Media Tools
The IA has created several customizable social media tools to help you promote smart irrigation throughout the month of July. Such as:
Social media cover photos for your company’s profile page on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Landscape irrigation infographics and snippets for Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Articles on irrigation best practices to include in your company’s monthly blog or newsletter.
H20 has been at the heart of the human story since the very beginning, and this first segment illustrates why we as a species can no longer take water for granted.
Episode 2: Civilizations
The second episode reveals how our success as a species is intimately connected to our control of water.
However, with the establishment and growth of our various civilizations we have created a dangerous dependence on this precious resource.
Episode 3: Crisis
The final segment of this landmark series explores how Earth’s changing water cycle is reshaping everything. Water is being mined faster than it can be replaced, as the global agricultural industry converts the planet’s precious reserves into profit.
This episode also examines the deep roots that connect water security with various conflicts around the world. If we want to understand why our world is changing, we need only follow the water.
The easiest way to sequester carbon is through photosynthesis. So the more plants, trees and grass, the more carbon is removed from the air — and the more oxygen is produced. In addition, proper landscaping – with trees that provide both windbreaks and shade — saves energy by keeping homes warm in winter and cool in summer.
According to Britt Wood, NALP CEO, many homeowners are unaware of the positive impact they can have simply by adding plants and trees to their landscape and maintaining a healthy lawn. To this end, smart irrigation systems can be a major component in an overall strategy to protect the planet. Not only does smart irrigation save precious water resources, but it helps ensure that residential landscapes remain strong and healthy, optimizing their carbon-sequestering capabilities.
A 2018 study by a University of Wisconsin scientist reveals that lawns may act as a secret weapon against climate change. In an analysis of soil samples Dr. Carly Ziter found that the typical American lawn is more effective at capturing carbon than natural, untouched ecosystems.
She is unsure why this is so, but speculates that it could be due to lawn care practices (e.g., mowing). However, Dr. Ziter emphasized that her study only compared the soil of lawns and natural environments, not the plants that may capture carbon aboveground.
Therefore, the effectiveness of carbon-capturing soil could potentially be offset by the carbon emissions required to maintain the lawns with gas-powered equipment.
You can remind your customers of the important role they play in combatting climate change by offering them a few helpful tips:
Add more trees and shrubs to sequester carbon, produce oxygen and filter the air.
Plant in the right spots to block prevailing winds and provide your home with energy-saving shade.
Select plants that are appropriate to your particular climate and location. Incorporate hydrozones in your landscape design to maximize irrigation efficiency.
Keep your lawn and plants healthy to capture more carbon and effectively filter storm water. Take advantage of smart irrigation technology – including weather stations with ET controllers, soil-moisture sensors, rain and wind sensors — to ensure optimal health for your residential landscape. Homeowners who are serious about changing their impact on the planet should explore these innovations to reduce water usage, save money, and preserve our precious resources.
Switch to Electric
The Electric Power Research Institute claims that replacing half of our gas-powered lawn mowers with electric models would have the same emissions-reducing effect as removing two million vehicles from the road.
So your customers may wish to consider switching to an electric-powered mower. Not only are electric mowers better for the planet, but they also are quieter, easier to maneuver, and less costly to maintain.
However, because they require either a cord or a limited-capacity battery, they work best on flatter, smaller yards (one-half acre or less). Large or challenging terrains with dips and slopes still require gas-powered mowers for optimal results.
But that may change. As consumers continue to demand greener alternatives, electric mower technology will no doubt evolve to include more powerful units with advanced capabilities.
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Landscape contractors, also, are increasingly switching over to all-electric commercial-grade equipment. They find that electric equipment is cheaper to maintain and saves on time and labor, because workers are no longer stopping to refuel. And there’s no learning curve.
In addition, landscapers who’ve made the switch report that their customers have responded very favorably to the quieter motors and environmental benefits that the electric fleets offer.
For additional resources regarding healthy landscapes and climate change, visit the NALP website.
Irrigation Apps Can Take Your Business
to the Next Level
Installing, inspecting, auditing, adjusting and repairing irrigation systems requires a lot of information processing. Mobile app technology will not only help manage it all, it can streamline your business.
Let’s take a look at a few of these tools, beginning with the most basic:
Smart Controller Apps
There are a myriad of mobile apps for programming, adjusting and testing smart irrigation systems.—one for just about every type of smart controller, in fact. And they’re easy to use.
Simply download the app of your preferred irrigation controller and you can access any system you’ve installed. Receive real-time alerts, flow data and other diagnostic information, so any issues can be resolved right away.
Especially for Landscapers
Are you a landscaper? Here are some of the most popular apps for streamlining both the business and the green side of your landscaping company.
Harvest Landscape Calculator – Simply enter in the length, width, and depth of the given property, and this app will calculate how much product you need to cover it.
Landscaper’s Companion– This handy reference guide provides information on thousands of plants, as well as digital images.
iScape – Let your customers see their new landscape digitally before you ever start digging. Create a design, then move around the various plants, trees, and hardscapes according to their desires.
Planimeter – This app works with GPS and Google Maps to accurately measure the perimeter, angle, area, and distance of a given environment.
Turfgrass Management – You can diagnose various turf diseases with this app designed by researchers at the University of Georgia. The app also advises which fungicide or pesticide works best on a specific turfgrass disease.
And while each controller’s app is different, most allow you to update a schedule, add or remove watering zones, and monitor the system’s performance, without requiring a visit to the residence.
Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping integrates various types of data by analyzing spatial location and organizing it through maps and 3D imagery.
The ArcGIS platform, produced by Esri, is probably the most widely used application for GIS mapping. It’s the preferred tool for 84 federal agencies, as well as countless state and local entities, including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
This tool includes a functionality that transports desktop mapping onto the web, allowing irrigation technicians to access all GIS files via their smartphones. ArcGIS integrates with GPS so that infrastructure and system components can be located quickly and easily via turn-by-turn directions.
The result? A better organized team.
The GoCanvas inspection app can analyze the irrigation run schedule to determine if any changes should be made to the controller’s current, calculated and proposed schedules. After each analysis, a summary screen displays inspection results and calculations.
The app also allows you to capture before-and-after photos of repairs, document locations with integrated mapping, and provide details of issues encountered. Your customers will receive clear and concise communications.
Digital or PDF inspection forms and other documents can be stored in the GoCanvas Cloud.
Google-owned AppSheet allows users to create a customized app from a spreadsheet Technicians can access GPS, take pictures, and then upload to Google Suite. Workflows are then created by AppSheet using a designated list of jobs and adding photos as needed.
The tool allows you to automate workflows, which can then be emailed or saved as PDF documents. Can also be configured to send automatic alerts to customers.
As you can see, there are a ton of mobile apps available to irrigation professionals. But some of the best won’t cost you a dime. For instance:
Bosch Toolbox: This app lets you measure your jobsite, document (with photos, video, or notes), and export as needed.
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Milwaukee One-Key: Retain better control of your equipment and tools with this inventory and tracking app. Pairs with the TICK tracking device hidden on your equipment.
PlanGrid: Offers real-time access to drawings, punch lists, and other submittals via any mobile device. Eliminates the need for paper plans on site.
QuickBooks Time: No more paper time sheets or punch cards with this cloud-based time tracking and scheduling app.