Irrigation is all about getting the right amount of water where you need it when you need it. A well designed irrigation system reduce water usage by watering efficiently. There are two basic types of Irrigation: Sprinklers and Drip. Sprinklers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to suit your project. Matching the right sprinkler to your application is essential. Drip irrigation is designed for lower pressure applications and longer run times. Many people think of drip irrigation being small scale as in shrubs and gardens. Drip technology is used extensively in agriculture on a much larger scale but it is still drip.
There are some great resources available on the web for irrigation and rather than repeating that info we will provide a series of links:
- Blu-Lock System
- Toro Sprinkler Guide
- Rainbird Learning Centre
- Rainbird Sprinkler System Guide
Types of Irrigation:
This type of irrigation is over 90% efficient with minimal loss due to evaporation and little affect by wind. Used for shrubs and gardens.
Not as effective as drip but designed to be run on the same zones and in the same locations as drip irrigation. Used for shrubs and gardens.
The picture above has a rotor (single stream that rotates) and a spray on the right. These sprinklers are in the range of 70% to 80% efficiency and are more susceptible to evaporation and environmental affects such as wind. These are still the only way to water turf.
The picture is a Rain “Gun” and is one of many options for agricultural irrigation.
Anatomy of an Irrigation System
(Image coming soon.)
Main Supply (Source)
This is either a municipal water supply or a well (Gulf Islands, Rural). The water source will have a capacity in both gallons per hour(GPM) and pressure (PSI)and an irrigation system must suit the capacity of the supply. In the case of a municipal connection you will need to connect on the private water service line and your connection must be connected by a double check back flow preventer. BC Building code requires a permit to make this connection and it must be done by a qualified backflow installer.
The main line is under constant pressure and needs to be constructed of high quality piping and associated fittings. The types of pipe used for main lines include:
- Municipal Polyethylene
- PVC Schedule 40
The main line is connected to a manifold. A manifold is a pipe or chamber that has a number of opening. In an irrigation system there will be one opening for each valve/zone.
The laterals are only under pressure when you are watering/valve is open. As there is less strain a less expensive pipe is normally used. These pipe are:
- Blu-Lock (an associated push fit fittings)
- PVC Schedule 200
- Prime Polyethelyne
There are a large number of controllers available in the market. The sophistication ranges from single zone battery timers that can be used in places without power to systems that are connected to the internet and control dozens of sprinkler zones. Typical residential controllers control from 4–16 zones and have a variety of features. Drop by, and we’ll help you choose a controller that is right for you.
Wes-Tech’s Drip Kit keeps plants beautiful with a simple installation that is ideal for balconies, pots, planter boxes, and hanging baskets. It is perfectly designed to assist you in producing longer lasting blooms, greener leaves, and a healthier plant life. It eliminates watering by hand and is filled with all the necessary products you need for the job. This kit is an easy and convenient way to keep plants watered and healthy. With additional fittings you can reconfigure this to suit even more of your specific needs.
I’ve run my new drip system and there doesn’t look like there’s enough water. What’s going on?
1 Low Flow – drip line accommodates systems with reduced flow, such as the pressure and flow available from a household hose tap (hose bib). The water applies a lot slower than the ‘monsoon’ that sprays create. Much more flow is required to operate traditional sprays and rotors. We can generally cover more area with less water and flow on a drip system.
2 Water Table – in drip systems, you typically water a short time daily rather than water two or three times a week with sprays. If you only water a couple of times a week with drip, the system doesn’t apply enough water to catch up after a day or two of dryout. The idea of drip is to ‘add layers of water’ to keep the soil moisture or ‘water table’ up constantly. Don’t be surprised if the top half inch of soil is crusty. Wind and sun can dry out that top layer quickly. When watering regularly with drip, you should be able to feel damp soil under that half inch top 6-12” around the drippers. For dense plantings or vegetable rows, we generally run drippers or drip line at a 12” spacing.
3 Time To Water, Soil and Weather – how long you water will need to be an experiment over the first week or two. If you have sandy soil, you will likely need a longer watering time than loamy or clay soil. We often recommend drip for clay soil as it applies slower as clay soil absorbs slower. In areas where there’s a change in the grade, the slow application of drip prevents erosion and runoff waste. It also reduces surface weed growth, making gardening a little less work.
There’s a kink in my ½” supply line. Is that bad?
Your poly supply line is flexible to do relaxed bends around your area. 90 degree elbows are available if you need to do tighter corners. Generally if there’s a light kink in the soft supply tubing, it’s not an issue – water pressure will push the water through. If it’s a hard kink, flow will definitely be restricted.
I have some soaker hose from the hardware store. Can I incorporate this?
Your drip system consists of industry standard components that work efficiently for extended periods when properly installed. Soaker hose generally runs at a different flow rate than drip line, drippers or other micro irrigation, so adding it on to existing hose can mean your watering areas will be mismatched. Soaker hose in general has a significantly shorter life span. We recommend replacing soaker hose with a drip line system.
I have more water at the start of my drip system than at the end of the line. Why?
If your setup has one long continuous line, remember friction loss in the pipe can make it so less water flows at the end of the run than at the start of the run. Generally in drip there are no single rows – all areas are looped. This allows more even flow compared to a ‘serpentine’ or ‘zig zag’ pattern.
If there is a change in grade (a hill or berm) on your system, keep in mind that elevation change can also affect how much water makes it to the high point. You may not see this in smaller systems, but with long runs of pipe this could be an issue to be aware of.
I’m on city water service. Why do I need a filter?
The efficiency of drip irrigation relies on the small dripper outlets to be clear. It is especially important to filter pond, well, cistern and lake water ahead of an irrigation system. In the case of city water, deposits from neighborhood construction or older infrastructure can enter the water supply and your house water. The inexpensive filter included in the drip kit will catch material that can shorten the life of your drippers.
Can I cover up my drip line?
Most of the dripline we sell is intended for surface installation. You are however able to add up to an inch of loose media on top, such as mulch which can protect the top layer of soil and conceal the drip line. It’s a good idea to diagram where your general connections and supply lines are located for future access. If the drip line must be buried, we have several varieties that are suitable for burial up to four inches. It contains a root control component that can prevent root growth inside the dripper.
Am I able to add on to my system?
Calculating your available water flow is important for the success of your watering system. If you calculate what water flow you have, what you are using in your system, then you are able to see how much more irrigation you may add safely.
I have drippers in my kit but my neighbor has sprays. Can I add sprays to my system?
There are many different kinds of irrigation, and each has it’s own set of applications. Your neighbor’s sprays may be part of a larger system supplying more pressure and flow to cover a larger area. Micro sprays can use anywhere from five to ten times as much water as drippers. Pop-up sprays can use ten to a hundred times as much water per hour, depending on the distance and nozzle type. Regardless of your situation, it is important to know your water flow and pressure, what and how much area you need to water, learn the best options for watering it, and learn the output of your sprinkler type.
I have a backyard system I installed myself – I want to add on to my system in the front yard. Can I run the two areas together?
If you ‘know your flow’ and know how much you are able to add on (see previous answers) then it may be possible to run the two together. Keep in mind that if the two areas are far apart, you will lose pressure and flow from friction loss in the pipe. The drip kit contains ½” poly pipe, which incurs quite a bit of loss over a long distance. You may need to upsize your delivery pipe to ¾” or larger prime poly or Blu-Lock pipe to alleviate friction loss.
You may also consider a separate system for the front yard in this case – you will have more control over the watering setup if you have different plants that need a different amount of water.
I moved in to a new house that has irrigation already, but I would like to add on to that system. Can you help?
You may choose the drip kit for a patio or small garden system connecting to your hose tap setup, running separately from on-site irrigation. If you want to add on to an existing in-ground system, there are several considerations. We recommend having an irrigation contractor do a site visit and/or ‘startup’ service, to orient you with your existing system, its capabilities and extent on your property. They could then make a recommendation for incorporating add-ons or new zones to your system. A good contractor is also familiar with local safety and building codes and industry best practices.