Drip Irrigation

Drip Irrigation - Irrigation supplies, Garden irrigation, sprinkler systems.

Drip Irrigation - Materials & Equipment

Drip Irrigation | Irrigation supplies, garden irrigation and sprinkler system recommendations.

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Drip Irrigation is a low pressure, low flow way of delivering a measured amount of water to general areas, such as groundcover or specific plant and tree species. The irrigation pipes typically run on top of the landscape bed.

Some specially designed drip lines are designed to run underground, but are susceptible to rodent damage. Most systems can be run beneath coarse mulch very successfully.

Advantages of Drip Irrigation:
    Minimized fertilizer/nutrient loss due to localized application and reduced leaching.
    High water efficiency.
    Ability to irrigate irregular shaped beds & lawn areas.
    Allows safe use of recycled water
    Moisture is applied directly to the root zone
    Soil type plays a less important role in frequency of irrigation.
    Minimized soil erosion.
    Highly uniform distribution of water i.e., controlled by output of each nozzle.
    The labor cost to install is minimal - in fact, most homeowners can install their own systems.
    Variation in supply can be regulated by regulating the valves and drippers.
    Fertilization can easily be included with minimal waste of fertilizers.
    Foliage remains dry thus reducing the risk of disease.
    Usually operated at lower pressure than other types of pressurized irrigation, reducing energy costs.
Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation Are:
    Expense: Initial cost can be higher than an overhead system.
    Clogging: If the water is not properly filtered and the equipment not properly maintained, it can result in clogging.
    Drip irrigation might be unsatisfactory if herbicides or top dressed fertilizers need sprinkler irrigation for activation.
Supplies Needed:

Pump or Pressurized Water Source This would be your water source from a well or municipal system.Irrigation Pump

Pressure Reducing Valve This valve reduces pressure from the source feeding the irrigation system. Normally you want to maintain about 40psi for your drip system for best operation. Too high and you will blow out components. If it's too low and you will not have proper emitter operation. I prefer the adjustable type regulator valve, which allows fine tuning later on.

Isolation Valves These valves allow you to manually shut down Isolation Valveparts of the system for maintenance purposes. Your main valve at the source of the water is called the main shutoff valve. Branch shut-offs are only used for very large systems, so you may only be using the main valve on your system.


Water Filter(s)Media & Screen Filters Isolation ValveThese are very important in drip irrigation systems as drip lines have very small holes that can clog easily if you don't filter. EVERY system should be filtered, no matter how clean you feel the source water system is.

Fertilization Systems (Optional) Not to many residential systems employ this option. It has a fertilizer reservoir and disperses liquid fertilizer throughout the drip system.

Back-flow Preventer A back-flow preventer in an absolute requirement for drip systems. Isolation ValveIt prevents contaminates from feeding back into the potable water source. It is placed at the main irrigation line where the water from the water source branches off to the irrigation system. Usually a 3/4" back-flow preventer will meet the needs of most irrigation systems, even if you have 1" pipe for your main water feed to your live lateral.

Main Water Line This Isolation Valveis the section of PVC or poly pipe that leads from the water source to the zone control valves. You will typically have a live home run tube that runs around the perimeter of your system. This will probably be a 1-1/2" poly pipe and is continuously "live" or has water flow available at all times

Zone Control Valves Isolation ValveI would recommend electrically operated zone control valves. They are hooked up to your irrigation controller with low voltage wiring. The zone control valves are best grouped together and placed in a accessible manhole or plastic access box. These valves also attach "inline" to each irrigation zone.

Branch Lateral Poly pipe (usually 1/2" dia.) Isolation ValveAlthough typically used in larger drip systems this pipe connects the zone control valve to the drip system piping or emitters piping.

Isolation ValvePoly fittings and Accessories (to make connections) Emitting Devices and Drip Tubing

The emitters are what controls the water flow to the plants. There are 2 types of emitters. The first type is built into the drip tubing and delivers about one gallon of water per hour. The second type of emitter is the kind that attaches to the tube by screwing or snapping into the tubing. Typically, the drip emitters are spaced at 18" o.c. You will find some variation to this though.

Isolation ValveIrrigation Emitter Piping with built-in emitters. This pipe is available in 100' rolls and has the built-in emitters spaced at 18" o.c.. Use barbed tees for connections.

Drip irrigation systems are the most efficient method of watering our plant beds. Drip systems are typically rated at 90% efficient or higher.

This exact number is dependent on just where the drip system is installed. If you lay it on top of the ground it is a bit less efficient. Systems installed beneath a mulch layer are fare more efficient.

Be careful if installing the system under mulch. If you have a yard full of moles, voles or other burrowing critters, they love to chew on these systems, giving you many headaches. If you want to eliminate your mole problem go HERE.

The reason these systems are so efficient is that they deliver the water directly to the root zone of the plants. This not only minimizes water evaporation, it minimizes diseases that result from wet vegetation, typically as a result of too much  overhead spraying.

Do note, however, that most plants do enjoy an overhead shower occasionally and if you go through a period of drought, you should take a hose and sprayer attachment and give your plants a welcome bath to wash off contaminates etc.

Drip systems are a relatively easy install for the home do-it-yourselfer to accomplish. You will need minimal tools for a professionally installed system.

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