To get the most out of any irrigation system, it’s better to plan a landscape design before installation. Knowing where lawn areas, shrubs, trees, flower beds and gardens will be planted can assure the best design for the sprinkler system. But if you don’t have the ability to plan ahead, there are plenty of ways to retrofit today’s systems into your existing landscaping.
If you’re planning a landscape upgrade or putting in new features, it may be the perfect time to add an irrigation system.
Planning ahead allows for “hydrozoning,” the process of grouping plants with similar watering needs together. For example, planting shrubs (which need less water) near perennials (which typically need more water) can hamper the shrub’s growth. Mismatched platings can also result in water waste. Any local garden shop will have information on the needs of various plants when it comes to water and sun. Many have gardening experts on hand to help you plan your landscaping.
The same sprinkler heads must be grouped together on the same valve to operate sprinklers most efficiently.
Different sprinkler head types put out vastly different amounts of water in the same time period. Mixed heads in the same zone will again result in over-watering of some plants and under-watering of others.
While there are many varieties of sprinkler heads, the three general categories are: spray, rotor, and drip heads.
- Spray heads either pop-up out of the ground or have a stationary head. They are most commonly used on small areas such as turf, shrubs or flower beds. Spray heads put out a lot of water in a short amount of time.
- Rotor heads are useful in covering large areas, and typically apply water more uniformly than spray heads. The slower output of a rotor head allows them to be used on all soil types with less cycling.
- Drip systems have become popular for irrigating flowers and gardens. A drip system usually consists of a special tube or hose with holes (emitters) along it. These emitters may cover uniformly, or be set up to randomly water only certain plants. Drip irrigation can save time and money when installed properly because it applies water directly to the soil, eliminating over-spray.
To save the most water, sprinkler systems must be adjusted to the season. Landscapes need much less water during the spring and fall than during the summer. Watering should be done between 6 and 10 p.m. Not watering during the hot daytime hours will reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
A common problem with sprinkler systems is water pressure. Without correct pressure, sprinklers will not perform effectively. Pressures that are too high can damage nozzles and heads, sometimes even causing them to break off. If pressure is too high, pressure-reducing valves and heads can be installed or retrofitted. Manufacturer’s instructions and specifications will contain the information necessary to ensure proper water pressure.
Use Local Plants
Using plants and flowers that grow naturally in your local are will be the best way to insure that they stay healthy and beautiful, without a lot of extra care. You can find local plant suggestions from your state extension program, or from a master gardener in your area.
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Saving Time and Money
If you’ve invested in landscaping around your home, then you’ll want to take care of that investment. Using an irrigation and sprinkling system makes it easier to properly take care of your plants and grass, and it can be programmed to do so, saving you time and money.
Although it may seem like an expense upfront, an irrigation system can make life much easier. You may find that having time to enjoy your outdoor rooms, as well as saving on water, far outweigh the initial expense.
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Thanks to David Goldberg for an informational guest post!
David Goldberg – Home Inspector
Reliable Home Services, Inc.
PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322
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