All About Automatic Irrigation System
Many people consider installing an automatic irrigation system or sprinkler to water their lawn for a simple reason. First, sprinklers prevent people from carrying hoses around in the garden. Irrigation systems also prevent water pipes from getting knotted and from getting caught in car tires or other items in the yard.
But there are other reasons to make the switch to an automatic irrigation system.
Pros and Cons of Sprinklers
Automatic irrigation systems are convenient, especially for those who travel. The main disadvantage is that, initially, they cost more than the alternative. But, if installed and programmed properly, a lawn irrigation system can save you money in the long term and help you conserve water. If your lawn or flower die they need to be replaced, and that can be expensive; if automation can save you this expense, it will be worth the investment.
The pros of having sprinklers installed can go beyond saving money on replacing flowers. Watering with a hose or with an oscillator wastes water. Neither method targets plant roots with any significant degree of precision. Automatic irrigation system can be programmed to discharge more precise amounts of water in a targeted area, which promotes water conservation.
Equipment You Need
Four basic components make up a sprinkler system: the timer or “controller,” irrigation valves, underground piping, and sprinkler heads.
What Are the Best Sprinkler Heads to Use?
Consider how the factors of topography and lawn size come into play in selecting a type of sprinkler head. Let’s take a closer look at the two common types of lawn sprinkler heads:
Spray or “Fixed Spray” Heads
Spray sprinkler heads are sometimes designed to pop up out of the ground when the sprinkler system is activated, while others rest on pipes that remain above-ground at all times. Spray heads discharge a large volume of water in a relatively short amount of time, giving them a “high application rate.” For this reason, sprinkler systems with spray heads are most suitable for even surfaces, not slopes. If you do have to use a spray head on a slope, program your sprinkler system such that water is discharged over several shorter periods. This will help you avoid wasteful run-off.
By contrast, the rotor-type sprinkler heads have a lower application rate, so they are simpler to use on slopes. Rotor heads also apply water more uniformly than do spray heads, making them more suitable for watering larger areas. For people who wish to irrigate large areas of lawn, sprinkler systems with rotor heads would be a logical choice.
Drip Irrigation Systems and Water Conservation
Drip irrigation systems, at the most basic level, are constituted of a series of tubes that have holes opened along them at intervals. The location of the open holes is tailored so as to irrigate most efficiently the specific garden beds in which drip irrigation systems will be buried, promoting water conservation. If you have a bed in which perennials are spaced at two-foot intervals, then there will be corresponding holes in the tubing at two-foot intervals, through which water will be discharged. You don’t waste any water with drip irrigation systems because you’re not watering the intervening area between plants. The dripping occurs only where the plants are stationed.
Sprinklers, in contrast with drip irrigation systems, spray water into the air first, before it ever reaches the ground. Wind can carry airborne water away, distributing it elsewhere than where it was intended to go–an inefficiency not conducive to water conservation. Drip irrigation systems preclude this unnecessary water loss by taking the water right to the roots.
Drip irrigation systems are often installed in areas in which flowers or shrubs are growing (that is, individual elements with spaces between them), as opposed to a lawn. Drip irrigation systems allow you to target plant roots even more precisely than do sprinklers, resulting in better plant health and better water conservation.
Plants get thirstier in summer than during spring and fall, so program your irrigation timer accordingly, rather than always keeping the irrigation timer on the same setting. This will promote water conservation, as will watering at the right time of day and overriding irrigation timers with rain sensors.
The time of day when you irrigate is a factor in water conservation. If you program irrigation timers to go on early in the morning, you’ll lose less water to evaporation than if you were to irrigate in the heat of the day.
For optimal water conservation, it will be necessary to override the irrigation timer of your automatic system if your area receives heavy rains the night before your system is programmed to run. You’d only be pushing up your water bill unnecessarily. If you’d rather not have to bother overriding your system manually in such cases, install a rain sensor on your roof. Rain sensors can be tied into automatic systems, shutting them off for you after a period of rain.
Soil type affects how you irrigate your my lawn. Read more to learn about soil types and how to figure out which type you have.