The Ultimate Guide to Irrigation Systems

Ah! Garden irrigation [shakes head with fond memories]. Gone are the days when that meant you and the hosepipe, or watering can for that matter. While these are great options for small, close-to-the house patches of garden, if you’re thinking a little more “big time”, then you’ll be really interested in irrigation systems.

Different Types of Irrigation Systems

Essentially, irrigation is getting the right amount of water and nutrients, to the right places, for the right amount of time. Daunting, eh? Well, it doesn’t have to be.

You’ll be happy to know that with a little bit of gumption, and possibly a lot of dirt – you’ll be able to install these by yourself! No unnecessary labour costs, except maybe for your own (and that can be tea and biscuits for after).

Let’s have a look at the different types to get a better understanding of what you might need for your project.

Ground-level Irrigation

This is a really great option for garden irrigation because it means less evaporation, fewer weeds and a reduced risk of plant disease. There are two main types, namely:

Drip-line irrigation system

This type of irrigation is made from poly pipe and has evenly spaced drip holes along the length of the entire pipe. At each drip hole, you place a regulator that is inserted into the hole. This is so that the amount of water that passes through each, can be regulated.

How to construct different types of irrigation

Not all irrigation types are made equal, in that different types are better suited to different projects. Imagine watering an entire field with a watering can. Uh, no thanks!

Bed Irrigation

  1. Using a 20mm PVC supply pipe, you can run the length you need, underground to each of your garden beds, via an isolation valve. This is where you will turn the water on and off. From there you can run a header line across the top of each garden bed.
  2. Cut the header line into as many equal lengths you need. Attach a T connector to the isolation valve and from that, attach two of the four pieces.
  3. At the ends of those four pieces, using an L connector on each remaining end, attach the last two pieces of pipe.
  4. Seal off the ends of the pipes with isolation valves so that on occasion you can flush the system if needs be. Poke your holes along the pipes and insert the regulators.

Tree Irrigation

  1. Fruit and nut trees also depend on irrigation, but have a different watering schedule, and use a smaller, 19mm pipe.
  2. Place your pipe in a ring at a modest distance away from the base of the tree.
  3. Plug the one end of the drip pipe that is not connected to the water source pipe.
  4. As your tree grows you can enlarge the ring by adding another link of pipe when the time is right.

Pot Irrigation

  1. Potted plants need smaller amounts of water, more regularly. So using the same 19mm PVC supply pipe as with the trees, connect it to the water source. This pipe is your water supply line.
  2. Connect microtubing to the supply line that will individually service the pots, and attach drippers to the end of each.
  3. Make sure that these are pressure-compensation drippers, so that they deliver the same amount of water, no matter the pressure in the supply line.

DID YOU KNOW? For efficient watering, you can both group your plants together that have similar watering needs, and you can install a filter on the supply line pipe to prevent clogging.

How to maintain different irrigation systems

Maintenance. Probably one of the banes of human existence, but what can we do? Already our irrigation systems are taking a massive workload off of us, so I suppose we can do this much at least.

Regular Automatic Irrigation system

This refers to any of the irrigation systems we’ve discussed earlier. If you have already, or want to set up your system to service different zones in your garden – you will need to have a master valve that runs directly from the main tap and lead it off to a series of station valves.

Your system can be manual, or if you can afford; computerised. Between the main tap and your station valves, you should also have a pressure regulator to prevent damage to the fittings and a filter to catch nasties before they get into your pipes!

It doesn’t hurt to inspect your system every now and then so that you can clean out dirt, roots, and even insects from your pipes when the system is turned off. Also, you can check that the pot sprayers are working properly and spraying as freely as they were meant to do!

Greywater Irrigation system

This system uses your household water for the garden. You can purchase one if you haven’t already, from most general supply stores. The aim of this system is extremely eco-friendly and less wasteful.

The most important way to maintain this system is to wash or replace the filters on a regular basis as these will do the job of stopping hair, lint and other household gunk from getting into the pipes and blocking the drippers.

Flushing is fundamental

Like flossing is used to remove build-up in your teeth, so is flushing a very necessary and important aspect of maintaining your drip irrigation system. You can attach flush valves at the end of each line for individual maintenance, or you can attach all your lines to a single flush point, so you can do it all at once.

You can do this annually on most of your lines, but if you live in an area with poor water quality, doing it more often is probably best.

If you need Irrigation, and want a professional – Contact Andy at All Aspects Landscaping

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